I've been pondering a certain question for some time now: Does it really take an engineer to pack a dishwasher?
Here's the thing. Let's suppose that I've unpacked the dishwasher and put everything away. My 19-year-old son comes in and makes himself a snack. After many years of nagging, we've finally trained him to pick up his plate and take it into the kitchen. If we're lucky, he'll put it in the sink. More often, he'll put it at the side of the sink. He won't even glance at the dishwasher.
If I happen to be passing by I'll say, "Can you put that in the dishwasher?" His immediate response will be, "How do I know whether the stuff in there is clean or dirty?" I will then say something like, "I wonder if there is any way in which we could find the answer to your question," and give him a certain look. He will take the hint, open the dishwasher door, and find it to be empty, thereby answering his question.
Not that this will do me any good, I'm afraid. Once a dish is in the sink he won't touch it again, because he is a tad germaphobic and regards sinks in the same way most of us would think of nuclear waste facilities, so I'll end up having to move the plate from the sink to the dishwasher. Of course, now I come to think about it, this might just be an incredibly cunning ploy on his part (hmmm).
And then there's my wife -- Gina the Gorgeous -- who has her own unique approach to packing dishwashers. This is somewhat hard to explain. You would have to see it to believe it. Suppose I gave you a small side plate and asked you to put it in the dishwasher. Suppose you open the dishwasher door and discover the machine to be empty. Where would you place the plate?
Obviously this is an unanswerable question. There are lots of possibilities. Assuming you are an engineer, however, might I take a guess that you will start at one end and/or side in one corner and, as you add future items, work your way out from there? Also, as it's a small plate, your decision as to which shelf to use might be influenced by the relative height available on each shelf. In our case, there is less vertical space on the upper shelf, so I would tend to put the small plates there and reserve the lower shelf for larger items.
By comparison, assuming the same starting point (an empty dishwasher), Gina will almost invariably place the plate somewhere around the middle of the lower shelf. Even worse, she won't think to place it in a 0° to 180° or 90° to 270° orientation. No! She will place it in a 45° to 225° or 135° to 315° orientation. If this were a game in which we each took turns, Gina would -- with a single small side plate -- have effectively blocked all of the "good moves" for the remainder of the pots.
After Gina has loaded the dishwasher, there are -- perhaps not surprisingly -- often dishes left over in the sink. If she leaves the room, while she's not looking, I surreptitiously sneak into the kitchen and move things around, like a chess grandmaster planning his strategy many moves into the future, re-packing the dishwasher so that everything in the sink also fits in, and still leaving room for more.
Am I alone here? Are all engineers good at packing dishwashers? Are all non-engineers useless when it comes to this task? And does anyone else open the dishwasher after it's been packed by their spouse, peer inside, and fall to their knees, looking up at the heavens wailing "Wwwwhyyyyyy?"
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting