Dishwashing

Restaurant dishwashers love funerals. Hate marriages.

At funerals, wine glasses (and sometimes even the stronger stuff) often return to the dishwashers only half-emptied. Old, grieving aunts, et al., sober a nuns, usually sail closer to the drier shore, especially at funerals; and so, the enterprising dishwasher, and we were nothing if not enterprising my dishwashing pals and I, would arrange an empty bottle or two or three under the sink with a funnel on top (and inserted into its neck) the easier to pour the contents of these half-full (always half-full, never half-empty), returning glasses into these bottles for later consumption—yes, the resulting brew was not connoisseur exactly, but there was nothing wrong with the alcohol contents, and that’s where this particular rubber met the road.

At weddings, on the other hand, every single glass arrives at the poor dishwasher licked-clean empty, bone-dry.

What am I doing washing dishes in this restaurant from four each afternoon till midnight? This is a fair question.

As mentioned in other fragments, I had quit my computer operator job to go to France and be a poet. The computer company was, if truth be told, pleased to see the back of me—I did not fit the corporate mold, and while I was good at my job, that was never an issue, I did stick out as it were, sore-thumb like, and this did not go down well with my boss(es).

So, jobless I was soon to discover that my French plans were wrecked by the Paris student revolts since the bus company judged it unsafe to drive to Paris at this point.

My company, still glad to see me gone, would not take me back. Yes, I asked.

Another, similar outfit had probably already been apprised of my persona non grata status, declined my application for a job as well.

But a boy has to eat. Couldn’t ask my dad for money, nor my mom. My appetite for crow non-existent. There was nothing for it, I simply had to get a job, somehow, somewhere, and when I mentioned this to my friends one of them said they’re looking for dishwashers at the Park Restaurant. Ah, beggars and choosers and all that, I would be happy to have any sort of job at this point.

Later that afternoon, I presented myself at Park Restaurant’s employment office as the very person they were looking for. There wasn’t much of a job interview: I was Swedish, I was eighteen, I was willing. Got the job.

Part of this story is that I had also just been evicted from the room I was renting. The land lady accused me of breaking a window and then not telling her or anyone else about it. I told her, which was the truth, that the window had broken itself while I was away.

Thing is, I had left it open (one of those windows you pull up to open, and which would they stay up and open until you pulled it down again; not this one though, at some point during my absence it decided to commit suicide and so un-pulled-up itself and, enlisting an all-too-willing and not-fooling-about gravity, came crashed down to its thousand-pieces demise).

The land lady did not buy this to her ears outlandish story and thought me a liar. Said as much, which really hurt (especially since although I had been a steadfast liar for most of my life so far, I was telling her the truth). She told to get my stuff out of the room by end of the day.

No return of the (admittedly small) security deposit.

Not much stuff to get out, to be sure, mainly books and a small, travel alarm clock (and some clothes) but nowhere to put it.

Came to find out (one of the cooks, who himself lived there) that Park Restaurant owned a boarded-up, dilapidated building mid-town, where I could grab a matrass to sleep on if I needed a roof above my head. Again, beggars and all that.

It felt like (probably was) squatting, actually. A low point, home-wise.

I’d wash dishes till midnight, then grab the now filled mixed-drinks, wine-and-above bottles and head out for late night, early morning revelry. Always some party or other going, and we were always welcome, bearing alcohol gifts as we were.

Come dawn, I’d climb the locked fence gate surrounding the Restaurant property, then hit the sack (about six or so), to then rise at about two, get ready for another evening of washing dishes and collecting funeral wine—of course, we did not cater to funerals every day or night, but even a normal evening saw a bottle or two of collected left-over, drinkable, after-a-while bliss.

I stayed at Park Restaurant about a month, then I decided that career-wise this was not a long-term prospect. I would try to find a computer operator job in some other town.

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