It was not easy removing the old dishwasher. Perhaps it was not as hard as performing a heart transplant or importing democracy into a Middle Eastern country, but it was still pretty darn difficult.

The thing is, we hated the old dishwasher. I don't think we hated it because it was a Maytag -- we're not "brandist." We hated it for a variety of reasons.

It would sometimes leave on the dishes little bits of mystery crud, like a pet cat that hides dead birds in your house. I'd be emptying the dishwasher, admiring the gleaming stemware, when I would spot a granular discharge at the bottom of a glass. Sometimes there'd be a lump of brownish dreck clinging to the underside of a bowl or what resembled a nodule of cauterized peanut butter fused to the side of a bread knife.

It was never so much or so often to make me think the dishwasher was broken. It was more an occasional character flaw.

Even this unpleasant trait we could have lived with if the dishwasher had been what you might call "user-friendly." It wasn't. It featured on its door a carved wooden panel that matched the kitchen cabinetry. A heavy carved wooden panel. A wooden panel so heavy that when you started to open the door, gravity would leap on it with both feet, causing the door to fall down with an alarming and dangerous thud.

No one's shins were safe around this door. Our Labrador retriever soon learned to stay well back, lest he accidentally acquire the dimensions of a Welsh corgi.

We quickly developed a deep hatred for the dishwasher. And so we pinned our hopes on the home warranty we had purchased when we closed on our house. If any appliance were to break within a year, it would be replaced free of charge.

But the damn dishwasher would not die. Like a cranky rich uncle determined to deny his heirs their inheritance, it selfishly clung to life. It cleaned, spottily. Its door did its guillotine impersonation. But it never misperformed so badly as to meet the terms of the home warranty. (Which, we learned, isn't like a divorce. You can't invoke "irreconcilable differences" or "alienation of affection.")

And then one day the door fell with such force that one of the hinges kind of popped out of its socket, not so much that it rendered the dishwasher unusable -- oh, that dishwasher wanted to live -- but enough to justify, at long last (and after the warranty had expired anyway), its replacement.

Consumer Reports was consulted. Sears was visited. An order was placed. We learned that carting away the old dishwasher was free but uninstalling it was not, nor was installing the new one. But what luck: My handy-with-a-wrench father was going to be visiting us the very week the new dishwasher was promised. We could save ourselves 160 bucks by making him put it in.

And so the day before the new dishwasher was promised, Dad and I set to work. He turned off the water while I threw the breaker. Then we saw the problem.

After we had moved into our house last year, we had replaced the icky linoleum kitchen floor with a floor of nice, cool Italian tile. The new floor was an inch higher than the old floor. The dishwasher, however, sat right on the wooden subfloor, resting in an untiled depression. We had to face the possibility that the Maytag was stuck, entombed as securely as Antigone in her Theban cave.

Maybe there was enough wiggle room, we decided. Our first order of business was to lighten the load. The upper rack, the lower rack and the cutlery basket were removed and tossed out the back door and onto the patio. Then I ripped the door off. (No Papua New Guinea cannibal ate the liver of his vanquished enemy with as much gusto as I displayed while removing that accursed door.)

We contorted ourselves and barked our knuckles to retract the dishwasher's little leveling feet. We disconnected the water line, the disposal line and the electric line. And then we eased the dishwasher out, ever so slowly.

What a sense of accomplishment I had after eviscerating the Maytag. I may put it on my resume.

The day after our Herculean effort of removing the old dishwasher, Sears called and said the new dishwasher was on back order. It would be four or five days until it could be delivered.

I like to think that when I dropped my father off at the airport he was a little chagrined that he wouldn't get to see the project through to completion.

Finally, Sears arrived to cart away the carcass of the old dishwasher and, more importantly, deliver the new one.

We wanted our plumber to install it, so for a few days it sat in the middle of the room. ("Honey," I told My Lovely Wife, "we have an island kitchen at last!")

I stayed home from work Tuesday morning so the plumbers could do their magic.

I suppose it goes without saying that the new dishwasher wouldn't fit, at least not easily. And that the plumbers had to chip away at the Italian tile until they could squeeze it in. And that it took them twice as long to hook it up as they'd planned, and thus cost us as much to install it as it had to purchase it. And that now I have to call the people who put our countertops in and ask them to drill holes in the underside of the Silestone so the dishwasher can be secured.

Somewhere, a Maytag is laughing.

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