I have a problem with messy kitchens. They annoy me. At home, if I’m cooking (or what passes for cooking in my house), I clean up as I go. I don’t aim for germ-free, just neat. It is rare that there are dishes scattered on my countertops or pots left on the stove – or else DD has been in there. I have been called “anal” about my preference for a tidy kitchen; I would rather call myself “particular”.
This propensity I have extends to my workplace. I want our kitchen area and staffroom to be clean. Not necessarily perfectly sanitary, but clean. No dirty dishes laying around. The dishwasher supplied with soap, turned on, emptied when the cycle is complete. Surfaces wiped. The fridge cleaned out once in a while. Tables denuded of the papers, pens, books, and newspapers that invariably congregate there. Is this too much to ask?
Yes. Yes, it is. So I have had to become the Kitchen Fairy. I have had to do this to save my sanity.
I have made myself responsible for keeping our common area clean. I do all the aforementioned tasks, as well as collect money to purchase coffee, milk, and sugar (people seem to prefer to supply their own tea), make coffee (a couple of other people also do this when necessary), and I also take home the soiled dishtowels and dishcloths every week to wash them. Oh yes – I also take the recycling bin contents home and put them in my own recycling bin for weekly collection by the city because we have no city pickup for our school. (Also, I suspect that no one would ever remember to put the bin to the street or bring it back in if we did have pickup.)
I don’t really mind doing all this, to be honest. It’s my little way of contributing to the wellbeing of the people in my workplace – and I can also avoid coaching teams or being on committees. I’m too busy! Plus, I would go berserk to see the mess accumulate daily, so I really must look after my mental health.
But my coworkers do appreciate what I do. I do get thanked rather a lot. My first year at this school, I regularly got little treats as thanks for my efforts: flowers, lottery tickets, Starbucks cards. That doesn’t happen any more (I suppose they’re used to me now), but I do get frequent verbal acknowledgement. It’s nice.
And all I ask in return is a little cooperation in the form of everybody putting their own dirty dishes or cutlery into the dishwasher. I have made a sign that I have tacked on the cupboard above the sink that states: “No one likes cleaning up after anybody else. Please put your own dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Love, the Kitchen Fairy.”
That didn’t work. Every day, some idiot would leave their cup, bowl or spoon on the counter, while the dishwasher sat half-empty.
I added another sign: “Dirty dishes includes spoons, knives, and forks. Put them in the dishwasher. Thank you! ”
That also made no difference. A third sign went up: “Yes, this means YOU! Put your stuff in the dishwasher! The Kitchen Fairy is losing her happy!”
Again, this had no effect. Not only is the Kitchen Fairy losing her happy, she is becoming downright pissed off. She is taking drastic action.
Now when there are dirty dishes left on the counter or on the table, I leave them. For two or three days. If they are still there, untouched, after that time, I throw them in the garbage. Yes. In the garbage.
So far, no one has dared say a word. And soon there will be no more dishes to worry about, clean or dirty.