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Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States (P.S.) Paperback – May 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Jordan's epic journey through the restaurant kitchens of America is testament to the fact that not everything is celebrity-this, reality TV-that, mortgage payments, and gas-guzzling SUVs, and that it is indeed possible to survive in this modern world on less than $5 a day and still get a kick out of life without cable TV and a highspeed Internet connection.
If you enjoy reading Bukowski or Jesus's adventures in the New Testament, if you can appreciate the absurdity in just about anything that has to do with surviving in modern-day Suburbia, USA and having to commute two hours every day to a job you hate to support a lifestyle you didn't know you needed, then you will find "Dishwasher" to be an enjoyable read.
Perhaps I found it interesting just because I wanted to understand why anyone would want to wash dishes (the Dirty Job's slant), or perhaps because of my brief (two-day) stint as a plongeur, or a desire to travel the country. But most likely it's my love of a real-world adventure told by a great story teller.
This type of book often has the danger of the author who takes themselves far too serious, or on an ego trip. I mean who really cares about a dishwasher. But this is really a book about a lot more.
There's the cultural differences throughout the country, where it's easy to get a dishing job, and where cultural prejudices precludes it. It shows you that dish washers are an important part of our world, and that despite their low-standing they still are needed, and that whether you're on an oil-rig, dinner train, commune, jewish nursing home, cannery, or Oktoberfest, there's someone in the dish pit taking care of business. And of course, I found it amusing that if it weren't for the cyclist unfriendly roads of Pittsburgh, he could be my neighbor.
And finally there's the philosophical perspective this book tries to provide towards the end. After ten years soaking suds, sleeping in a van, traveling the country, and bouncing between jobs, what else can you do with your life. Well, if your like Dishwasher Pete, you can become a pretty good writer.
As far as entertainment and humor value goes, Pete Jordan's self-proclaimed quest to wash dishes in all fifty states is quite high. Pete seems to be just your average-Joe type who begins the book trying to figure out what type of work is best for him. He doesn't want something that entails too much responsibility or pressure, so he continues to search until the day when he discovers "dishing"--it is his calling and seemingly an employment epiphany.
From here Pete learns the ins and outs of dishwashing, going from place to place, and picking up experience as well as dishwashing "street" lingo: three-day soaker, dish dog, pearl diver, the dish pit, "busting suds", and the dishmaster. When he finds discovers how much he enjoys moving around, he decides that he is going to add traveling from place to place in search of "dishing" in all the states to his ideas. He develops a check-list of "to dos" and also finds out about the history of dishwashing, such as known celebrities who have "dished", and begins to write a zine about his journeys.
What makes Jordan's book humorous and entertaining is his experiences (although sometimes he is a little too honest about the restaurants) and the philosophies he acquires as he moves along. For instance, he openly admits that the best part about finding a job is to be able to quit it without moment's notice, which he does quite often. Later, he muses about what he deems an unnecessary interview question about a job: "If her house had been on fire and someone arrived in fireman's gear raring to put it out, she wouldn't have stopped and asked him where he saw himself in five years. She'd get....out of the way and let the pro do his job.Read more ›
Pete Jordan comes across as a decent fellow with absolutely no ambition. Some would call him the ultimate slacker but at least he had the gumption to write and publish this book. It took a while for me to warm up to him, however. His tales of outright theft from the people he works for, as well as drinking himself into oblivion, lack of respect for anyone other than fellow dishwashers and lack of empathy for the hard-up restaurateurs who employ him make the reader wonder, why should I like this guy? Scarfing food from dirty plates (the "bus tray buffet") and sponging whenever and wherever he can go a long way toward testing the public's natural willingness to give an author the benefit of the doubt, especially when shelling out hard-earned cash.
Eventually, however, Jordan grew on me. I think my opinion turned about the time he began to research the early days of the American labor movement and discovered that quite a few of the rabble-rousers were abused dishwashers. This is a tale of what it's like behind the scenes, in the back of restaurants and cafes where the "dirty work" gets done. Pete's rule insisting that he have the freedom to walk out on any job, whenever the mood strikes him, is the dream of many an overworked, disrespected service industry grunt. While I often felt sorry for the employers who trusted him enough to give him a chance (as he drank their beer and ate their food when they weren't looking), the other side of the coin is that too many business owners still don't get it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first heard of Dishwasher Pete, as most people did, from This American Life. Amused by his quirky personality, his stories of the interesting people he'd meet and the adventures... Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. Bevard
A man with little career aspirations decides he wants to be a dishwasher. Somewhere between job #1 and job 5 he decides he wants to wash dishes in all 50 states, on a train, in... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nancy A
Right around the turn of the millennium I was quite into the zine scene, having been indoctrinated by a veteran zinester Matt Exile, even going so far as to produce one of my own,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Surferofromantica
Funny look inside the mind of lovable loser as he wanders around the US in a time just before the internet and smart phones. Seems rushed at the end.Published 10 months ago by Sparky
This may sound pathetic, but this is the absolute funniest book I have ever read. I laughed out loud until it hurt.Published 12 months ago by reviews
I bought this book because I had to do a report on it for my sociology class, and I was not looking forward to it. It turns out that the book was much better than it sounded.Published 14 months ago by Scott Manning
A great book about a very interesting guy. If you have ever worked as a dishwasher, or in the restaurant industry you will find it very relatable. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Thomas J Snell
What else it there to say-- this cult classic rocks. Talk about activists in the kitchen!Published 20 months ago by Colleen R Broderick