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Washing Dishes
by shirley davis
01/10/04
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The first sink is full of very hot suds as I scrub with great intent, as though the fate of the world hangs on my ability to remove every bit of soil from each plate. Every now and then a catastrophe of a lasagna pan comes with its cheesy, oily, tomato paste and I force down the urge to gag. This pan has to be pretreated and soaked for fifteen minutes to allow the smelly residue to cut loose from it's vesture before it can be washed. After being washed my suds are killed and new water must be made. I hate suds killing pasta pans.

Each night from three to eleven I work in this restaurant at my station which consists of three half filled sinks. From right to left there is a suds filled wash, center a bleach rinse, and last but not least, to my left, a rinse in clear hot water. All the water is extremely hot and my hands are very red and the purple veins on the backs strain out. I wash the silver pans that the vegetables and such are cooked in and make a game of trying to find rust in a corner or lip but so far have found only thinned places. I imagine in my mind those thinning places breaking through and hot material pouring all over the head cooks feet. That always brings a smile to my face and makes my shift go faster. They make you air dry everything here. That means twice the work for me. I mean, I have to wash the bastards, and after they are dry put them away. My way I'd wash them and put them away immediately drying them as I go. The boss says we wouldn't dry them then and he is probably right. I wouldn't anyway.

The other dishes are always interesting. You never know what you will find. Dentures, rings, money, one time I even found a mouse. Turns out it was a pet which had strayed from it's owners pocket. I'm sorry to say it did not survive its venture out in the world alone. A mouse is a mouse after all to someone who does not have one for a pet. We all felt bad about the ordeal but it is against the law to have animals who are not service animals in a restaurant anyway. To tell you the truth we all pitched in some and bought the little fellow a new mouse. He promised not to take it into public places anymore.

People are very odd about silverware. They will eat off a plate with a spot but if they can't see themselves in their silverware, (no matter what their own at home looks like!) they will raise a fuss like you have never heard! I remember one evening when this little old lady came in to our place. I was on my dinner break and saw her come in. She seemed nice enough. Shelly waited on her and brought her the silverware. Pretty soon World War Three started! She didn't like her knife. Shelly brought her a new knife. She still didn't like her knife. Shelly brought her another new knife. She demanded to see the manager! Shelly went and got Bob. Bob came out and asked what was the problem and the old woman said her silverware was dirty. Bob offered to take away the dishes she had accumulated and get her new. The little imp demanded he just get her meal. Bob insisted that she eat on the house in the interest of good public relations and this seemed to quiet the old lady down. The woman and I finished our meals at roughly the same time and she passed me as I was returning to my station. I waved goodbye to her as she slipped through the door and out into the night. I decided to bus her table but when I got to it there was decidedly something wrong. There was not a scrap of silverware to be found.

It's time to close and I've got all the dishes washed and stacked for another day. I've got the broom here in my hands ready to do a little sweep up back here after I finish smoking my cigarette. I smash out my cigarette real good and make sure it goes out. I sweep it up with my broom and take a look at the stacks of pots and pans hanging from the ceiling that I had washed.

Just another day for washing dishes.










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