Women Organize, Men … Are Just a Mess

Hands down, I'd win the dishwasher-loading, luggage-packing Olympics

Recently, a friend of mine warned me, with great depth of sincerity and assuredness of experience, that, “everyone does it differently.” Generally, I’ve always assumed that the core behavior is fairly constant; it’s the details, the interpretation that make all the difference.

Don’t be misled. I am not referring to the “nasty” unless, of course, that’s a term you apply to doing the dishes. No, what I’m talking about is loading the dishwasher.

Click. I just heard all you guys tune out but you ladies know what I’m talking about; the challenge of loading every single knife, fork, bowl and plate that damn thing will hold. Like Rubik’s Cube, a riddle to be sure, but one I’m driven to solve.

First, I rearrange everything into its proper place that my comatose family has already loaded. I mean, they must have been comatose to put a coffee mug in the bottom rack, right? Then I load with an eye to every angle, shape and protruding handle so that no space is wasted. Silverware is staggered to maximize what the basket will hold while still ensuring that all the fork tines and knife blades come out perfectly clean and plates are arranged to fit together like stackable chairs; all done with an exacting intent and precision known only to engineers, surgeons and NASA scientists.

Then it happens. I’m just ready to close the door on Mission Accomplished when my husband plops his ice cream bowl and spoon into the sink. I stare at the enemy as if to say, “Game on.”[SIGNUP]

I open the door and take stock. Next, I step back and examine what I’ve got to work with. I walk around and assess like General Petraeus in the War Room. The spoon is easy; there’s always a smidgeon of room to wedge in one more utensil. It’s the bowl that has me plotting. There! It reveals itself, a small space between the little plates and the glasses. Just enough room if I move several of the small plates to the top. That is, after I rearrange the coffee mugs to make room for the plates that have been promoted to the top rack. Might need to turn the bowls over to face the other direction and put the serving spoons on that little shelf that folds down. Then I … well, you get the idea. Twenty minutes later and, like God working a miracle, I’ve created space for the errant bowl.

Now it is true that I could have washed the bowl, dried it, filled it with some more ice cream, eaten the ice cream at a snail’s pace, washed and dried the bowl again and put it away in the same amount of time that it took me to part the Red Sea, but where’s the challenge in that?

The same drive for spatial excellence can also be applied to packing luggage. My husband throws a pair of shoes, two polo shirts and some pajamas into his 24” Tumi and announces that the luggage is full. “Silly Man,” I think as I crack my knuckles, limber up and dump his feeble attempt out for a fresh start. Eight shirts, three pairs of shoes, two pair of jammies, two pair of slacks, a baseball cap and a hair dryer later I snap that baby closed and do a small victory dance.

So call me a dreamer but what if there were luggage-packing, dishwasher-loading Olympics? Maybe an event for vacation car-loading with extra points for getting ALL the boogie boards in and still being able to see out the rearview? I’m pretty sure that I’d have some tough competition (you know who you are) but I’m fairly confident that I’d end up on the podium.