No, they aren't. Actually, they are incredibly underrated. Because when you have one you can't use... Well, it sucks. To really tell this story in its full glory, I need to take you back a few months.
A few months ago, I was cleaning out a vase that had some pretty plastic rocks in the bottom of it. Some of those rocks fell into the sink, and into the disposal. Whoops! I attempted to get the rocks out of the disposal, but then I remembered that I don't put my hand down sink drains. Because it's gross.
I mean... It wasn't that big of a deal. The disposal still worked, it was just a little noisier than it used to be. Whatever.
Fast forward 5 months, and suddenly (ok, suddenly may not be an accurate word choice, since they rocks had been there for 5 months) the disposal wouldn't work. It just presented a whirring sound when switched on. Again, whoops! Michelle kindly called the office to report our disposal malfunction and we waited patiently for the maintenance man to come and fix our problems. And waited, and waited, and waited. For days, in fact. Then, we received The Memo.
Our apartment manager is a fan of memos. She sends them often, and about topics that are not memo worthy. This specific memo covered a few issues, and there, stuck in the middle of washing machine reminders and door locking safety was this gem:
Garbage Disposals: Please remember that your garbage disposal is meant only for light scraps after dinner. Garbage disposals are not meant for potato peels, lemon or lime wedges, eggshells, or rocks from your aquarium.
Incidentally, almost all of those things were in our disposal. Now, we were concerned. Had they been in our apartment and seen these things in our disposal and then sent out a memo specifically about our apartment? That was preposterous... wasn't it? As we hadn't received any kind of personalized note telling us our disposal wouldn't be fixed or that we needed to pay $8,000 (obviously the cost of a disposal) in order to get it fixed we decided to call again. But again, we were left waiting.When we reached the day before the dinner party we had been planning for 6 weeks, we were a little angry that the maintenance request we put in 3 times, for over 3 weeks, had been ignored. So Michelle again called and forcefully told the apartment girl that we needed the disposal fixed. Immediately.
Shortly thereafter, Ricardo (not his real name) showed up at the apartment to fix the offending disposal. When he heard the sound the rocks made at the bottom of the disposal, he looked at me with questions in his eyes. I quickly told him that the disposal had always made that noise, that we didn't really use it very much, and we weren't sure what it was. Ricardo figured it out though.
"Did anyone ever have a fish?" he asked.
"No... Why?" Michelle responded. "Is there something... fishy in there?"
Unfortunately, Ricardo didn't laugh at her joke. (I did though, because... It was funny.)
He explained that the previous tenants must have had an aquarium and that is why the rocks were in fact in the bottom of our drain. He cleaned it out and saved the day, and our dinner party. Hooray!
Phone conversation I had the next day:
Michelle: Hey... So... The disposal isn't working.
Me: What? Are you kidding? He just fixed it yesterday.
Michelle: Yes, it just makes the whirring sound again.
Me: How in the--
Michelle: I put potato peels down it.
Me: Those were in the memo.
Michelle: I know. But... I've never known a disposal that couldn't handle potato peels.
Me: Well, you've obviously known at least one.
Michelle: Shut up.
Luckily, Ricardo was able to come back right away and fix the disposal, and even joked about how Michelle could have just asked him to dinner without breaking the disposal for a second day in a row. (Somehow, Ricardo managed to still leave the apartment without an invite.) We went on living our lives, keeping our disposal free of potato peels and other offending items, and enjoying our working sink. Until one night when I was washing the dishes and the sink backed up. When I turned on the disposal to try and get the water out of the sink, the water splashed everywhere.
I was less than amused.
Conversation I had when Michelle got home:
Me: I have some news.
Michelle: What's wrong?
Me: The garbage disposal isn't working again.
Me: I was washing dishes and the sink backed up, then water splashed everywhere. Also, the kitchen light isn't working again, and I turned on the air to try and cut the humidity in here and that wouldn't work either.
Michelle: I put eggshells in it.
Me: In the air conditioner?
Michelle: No, in the disposal. Why would I put eggshells in the air conditioner?
Me: Why would you put them down the disposal? It is only meant for light scraps after your dinner.
Michelle: I have a hard time reconciling myself with the fact that our garbage disposal cannot handle eggshells, which basically disintegrate between my fingers.
Me: Well, when I ran the dishwasher it backed up the sink and now there is standing water in the bottom of the dishwasher too.
Michelle: I am not calling them again. (This was then followed by some ranting and lying on the kitchen floor trying to "fix" the disposal herself.)
We are now a week later and STILL waiting on maintenance to come and fix the myriad of problems we currently have in our apartment. We can't wash dishes and are starting to run out. So no, garbage disposals are not overrated, they are in fact a necessity in order to continue eating at home.