A male and female robot holding hands.
Credit: Giovanni Cancemi | ShutterStock

For weeks now, the dishwasher only worked for my husband.

“Did you try this?” my husband asked. Then he’d press the very same button that I had been pressing for the last ten minutes. The machine chirped on with the high-voiced enthusiasm of a fembot conspiring against me. 

“You work for me!” I muttered under my breath when my husband left the kitchen. The dishwasher hissed back. Onomatopoeia of the aluminum bowl that it washed inside its walls.

“Whsh, wsh,” it whispered, mocking me. 

Months of this stalemate war dragged on. I would unload and load the dishwasher. Then wait like an impotent housewife for my husband to come home from work to turn it on for me. He watched me push the START button to no avail. I threw up my hands in frustrated defeat.

“I guess she just likes your touch better,” I laughed cynically, desperate for some anthropomorphic narrative to explain my appliance conundrum.

“Try pressing it harder,” my husband suggested, Kaizenning my inconclusive troubleshooting.

“I have been pressing it hard. But fine.”

“Don’t hold it down this time.” The red cyclops light glared at me and the dishwasher beeped on. Had that really been the problem for all these months? I wasn’t pressing the button hard enough? 

“It works!” my husband exclaimed. I was livid. It was a fitting metaphor for everything in my life right now. My job, frustration over my dead-end career, overwhelming student debt, waning friendships, my complicated relationship with my brother. I was not pressing any of life’s buttons hard enough. The Machine was pressing my buttons and I needed to file a warranty claim on all of it.