A Lousy Job, Part I

Everyone has a job they loathe at least once in their lives; some unfortunates are stuck with that job until they retire. The first job I ever had was washing dishes for the New Theater Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas over the summer of 2004. At eight dollars per hour, the pay was pretty good for a first job. The work, though, was brutal. Because the restaurant aspect of the business was a buffet, which meant that the kitchen produced the same food every day, in the same quantities. This meant that I had a massive amount of pans to wash every day.

Worse, though, was that three days out of the week (i.e. Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday) there was a matinée show and a lunch to go along with it. Needless to say, the workload was doubled on those days. My first day at work happened to fall on a Wednesday. What was worse was that the other dishwasher was absent that day. After ten hours of washing food service trays, pots, pans and two obscenely large mixing bowls which had been used to make mashed potatoes, I was beginning to question my career choice.

I stuck with the job, though; it helped that I was able to construct my schedule in such a manner that I never worked on a matinée day. The knowledge that it was a temporary gig and that I would be leaving for college in a month also kept me going.

This isn’t to say that the whole experience was entirely forgettable; over the course of my employment I met a Mexican fellow by the name of Juan. He barely spoke any English–in fact, I don’t think he spoke a word of the language at all–but he was a harder worker than anyone I had ever met, or indeed anyone I have met since. Working with Juan was something that helped to put my situation in perspective; sure, I had a shit job, but it was a job that I would be able to eventually leave. He, on the other hand, was stuck with it.

There was one other lesson that I learned at that job: adding hot water to just about any foodstuff results in a downright awful stench. This holds especially true for salad dressings, Ranch dressing most of all. In addition to the smell, there was the added joy soaking my forearms in filthy water for two hours at a time. This was the second important thing I came away with from the job: a strong stomach (though I must say that grease and fat still do a fine job of making me gag.)

Washing dishes was definitely not a pleasant job, but in retrospect I’m glad I did it; now I can feel good that I can empathize with the plight of the working man. This is hardly a boast that the typical college socialist can make, I think.


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