Ah, dishwasher, my old friend, my comrade, my trusted ally…Remember when it was just you and me and the dinner dishes?

Every evening, after the one single solitary meal per day that our family actually ate together at home, I’d sip some wine and listen to music while loading you up, and then I’d press your button and send you off on your gurgling nightly mission. You’d chug and scrub and rinse and dry while we slept, your whirring motor and whizzing jets lulling us into happy, peaceful slumber.

And in the morning, I’d open your door to a sanitized wonderland emerging from a cloud of steam, fresh like the dawn, sparkling with the promise of a new day. Fragrant and squeaky-clean and still warm, your bounty would be unloaded into the dish cupboard.

Then throughout the quiet day, you’d wait and rest, proud of your accomplishments, eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to slosh into action. As the need arose, perhaps a cup or a bowl would land in your racks, but you’d bide your time, never running at anything less than maximum efficiency.

It was a more innocent era.

Now, months into the greatest challenge you have ever faced as an unsuspecting household appliance, we both know better than to expect those easy evening loads to return any time soon. Now, you’re just fighting to survive.

The burden you’ve borne for all of us through this unprecedented crisis is so great, even the washing machine sends its respects.

Not even those little pre-made dishwasher detergent pellets can save us now.

At first, I thought we could simply run you once after lunch and then once after dinner. How wrong I was to imagine that this level of chaos could be contained. Thinking of my own hubris now, I can only laugh with the bitterness of a wilted spinach leaf stuck in your utensil rack.

Then—what a fool I was—I had the audacity to suggest that family members drink from fewer than three dozen cups per day, in an effort to lighten your workload.

We both remember how well that went. (About as well as telling people to just wear a mask for the love of all that’s sudsy.)

My various attempts to delegate your all-important mission to other family members have caused us nothing but shame and regret. One morning I opened your door to find the entire contents of our dish cupboard crammed into your racks in crusty unwashed heaps—after loading you up with literally every plate we owned, nobody pressed your start button. Your sense of dignity was dealt a shattering blow.

Another afternoon I opened your door to find that some infernal fiend had forced you to run a full load for a plate, a cereal bowl, three forks and a spoon.

Mistakes were made.

But still, we count ourselves fortunate. We’ve heard the horror stories, and we’ve escaped the worst. No one in the family has started you up with liquid dishwashing soap in your powder detergent compartment. No squishy silicone baby bottle part has gotten sucked down into your drain. No dishwasher-safe plastic sippy cups have been so haphazardly loaded that they fell onto the heating element during the dry cycle, to be melted into the twisted and unrecognizable shapes of our own tortured souls.

And if there’s a positive side to any of this, it’s that our bond has never been stronger, dishwasher. We’ve grown to trust each other in a crisis, with a mutual understanding and respect forged in the crucible of battle. I truly believe that both of us will make it through this time stronger, better, wiser.

Just please, please, please don’t break down. You’re all that stands between my family and an utter Lord of the Flies-style collapse of organized civilization. I know you’ve got my back. And I’ve got your top and lower rack.

The washing machine on the other hand…that one’s on its own.