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GROB: Fighting COVID-19, one small mess at a time

GROB: Fighting COVID-19, one small mess at a time
James Grob
By James Grob,

I didn’t even realize dishwashers needed to be cleaned.

I mean, you put the soap in and close the door and push a couple buttons, and then you hear the hot water splashing around in there, and I assume there’s all kinds of spraying and sudsing and scrubbing and rinsing going on, and if everything’s working right, the dishes are clean and shiny when all is said and done.

I never really thought about it, but I guess I assumed that while those dishes were getting cleaned, everything else behind that door was getting clean, too, including all the dishwasher parts.

But my wife begs to differ, and in the stay-at-home era of COVID-19, anything that can be cleaned, will be cleaned.

The dishwasher parts that could be detached were detached, soaked in the sink and rendered clean as the cleanest whistle before being reattached. The reattachment didn’t happen until my wife had essentially crawled halfway into the dishwasher — her legs sticking out — much the way you’d expect to see a mechanic underneath an old Chrysler, ratcheting and rattling away down there on the timing belt or solenoid starter or some such thing.

Anyway, the dishwasher is definitely clean now, as are 17 of our house’s 19 windows. I believe it was mentioned that there are plans for the other two windows, but I stopped listening after hearing that those plans included the necessity of me being somehow involved.

In the last couple of weeks, the car’s been cleaned, inside and out. The floors and ceilings and walls are clean. The cupboards are clean. The couch is clean. The books are clean. The clocks are clean. I even caught my wife cleaning the screen on my cellphone yesterday, when she thought I wasn’t looking.

Because of the coronavirus, now all the grocery containers that come into the house get cleaned with disinfectant before they’re put away. Even the disinfectant has been thoroughly disinfected.

It’s not just cleaning, though. Puzzles are now a thing. They are a great activity for couples, so my wife and I do them together — and when I say we do them together, what I mean is that my wife does them by herself, because I hate puzzles.

Check that — I don’t really hate puzzles, I just hate doing puzzles. I don’t mind looking at them, for a minute or so, and then saying to my wife, “looks like you’re almost done,” and then going to watch something on TV. I can tell she appreciates my authentic encouragement by the way she doesn’t kick me in the groin repeatedly.

There are things we can do together, as we stay at home, and we’ve done some of them. With no sports on TV, I’ve discovered that there are these things called “shows” that people put on, just so I’ll have something to watch. It’s very nice of them, and my wife and I have enjoyed many of them together.

Since we can’t go to church on Sundays, we watch the service online together, and this weekend my wife remarked that I’ve participated in church more in the last month than I had in the previous six months. So there you go — COVID-19 is sparking a spiritual renewal in me, perhaps pushing my soul toward salvation.

Unfortunately, when real church starts back up again, I won’t be able to put the pastor on “pause” mid-sermon while I go get myself another piece of cinnamon crumb cake. I’ll miss that.

We had a nephew get married last weekend. The ceremony was scheduled for June, but the couple decided to forget that big shindig, just have a socially safe and acceptable number of immediate family show up, and put the whole thing online. I’m no expert on weddings, but I’d say it was a beautiful thing.

My wife and I both love theater, and a couple of weeks ago we made some videos of ourselves acting out famous scenes in popular movies. We put them up online for all we knew to see, and encouraged our friends to do the same. Some of them did. Their videos were mostly better than our videos, and we felt proud that we’d helped break up some of the monotony currently in the world, at least for a little while.

We have friends who sing, friends who dance, friends who draw or paint, friends who play guitar, friends who just tell jokes — everyone has a talent — we are so grateful there are so many who express themselves artistically during this difficult time.

We turn to each other for hope, and it helps — maybe just a little, but it helps.

At some point, we’ll all be looking at this from the other side. Will we see ourselves as people who provided help, who provided hope, who behaved as humans should?

Were we strong? Did we endure? Were we smart? Did we care?

Were we kind? Creative? Loving? Did we hear, and if so, did we listen?

Right now, I’m not sure what we’ll see. Sometimes, it’s not the obvious mess that’s the problem — it’s the mess you never knew was there.

I am sure of one thing, though — dishwashers don’t clean themselves.

And right now, I have the cleanest one in town.