Dishwasher is Public Radio favorite and underground celebrity Pete Jordan’s amusing memoir of his dishwashing extravaganza. Part adventure, part parody, and part miraculous journey of self-discovery, it is the unforgettable account of Jordan's transformation from itinerant seeker into "Dishwasher Pete"—unlikely folk hero, writer, publisher of his own cult zine, and the ultimate professional dish dog—and how he gave it all up for love.
“For 12 years, I was the most prolific dishlicker of them all. From 1989 to 2001, I dished my way around the country, unwittingly searching for direction. From a bagel joint in New Mexico to a Mexican joint in Brooklyn; from a dinner train in Rhode Island to the Lawrence Welk Resort in Branson, Missouri; from an upper-crust ladies’ club to a crusty hippie commune—I washed the nation’s dishes. Whether it was a gig so lousy that I walked out within an hour or one where I toiled 120 hours a week, I remained a man on a mission: to bust suds in every state in the union.”—Pete Jordan
A smart, funny, and surprising look at life, Dishwasher is sure to appeal to fans of Nick Hornby and Tom Perotta.
For 12 years, Jordan (aka Dishwasher Pete) tramped about the U.S. washing dishes. Despite a survey of 740 occupations in which "dishwasher ranked #735," Jordan, then in his mid-30s, sees the inherent benefits of the job: downtime in between meals, free food (and beer), being able to quit at a moment's notice and an abundance of similar opportunities all over the country. The writing is lucid and earnest, and Jordan's passion for dishwashing and, even more so, for blowing-in-the-wind traveling, is infectious. As his quest extends from one year to the next, and he questions the worthiness of his goal to "bust suds" in all 50 states, he demonstrates an ability to convey his deepest fears without losing the upbeat, fun tone that pervades the entire memoir. What does hurt this rather lengthy book's pacing is that every dishwashing job (save a few) is pretty much the same, and the descriptions can get as repetitive as a wash cycle. Still, Jordan's knowledge of famous dishwashers (Gerald Ford, Little Richard, etc.) and dishwashers' roles in creating unions adds a substance that juxtaposes nicely with the author's slacker lifestyle.
Strangely, I enjoyed this book. It reminds me a bit of Seinfeld... a book about nothing. Or I should say, a book abut making an effort to go nowhere fast, and yet be the best at what you do.
I read this book last year. It takes you across the country and teaches you lessons on life.