I feel like I am the SpongeBob SquarePants of my restaurant…. always unfailingly cheerful in the midst of incredible busyness. This is because I get paid a lot for what I do, more than most people in my position, actually, so being happy is easy. I prep, work the line, wash the dishes, and keep smiling. It’s not glamorous in the slightest, but when you’re the member of a team, it’s so much fun. When I’m in the dish pit, I am the most important person in the restaurant. Just try making it through a shift if one of the cooks walks out. It’ll be fine. Now imagine that the dishwasher walks out. You’d be up shit creek without a paddle in five seconds flat. Even the chef could walk out and we’d still make it.
There’s only one thing that drives me up the wall, and I’ve been searching for YouTube videos and subreddits to try and figure it out. Ramekins…. those little silver cups that hold all the sauces. They get stacked and dumped in the prewash, which becomes useless when there’s ketchup, cheese, and grainy mustard in them. I swear to God, ketchup will be the death of me. I can’t even look at it anymore. Right now, washing hundreds of ramekins is extremely time consuming, because even if I run them through the dishwasher, they flip around and stack, making the dishwasher cycle useless as well. Doesn’t matter if I separate them…. in one minute they’ll be stacked again. So, I separate them and clean them out before I run them through the dish machine, which gets me in the weeds faster than anything I have to do…. and if I save them until the end so that I can keep up with the rest of the dishes, I’m not leaving until it’s dark thirty.
The best method I’ve found so far is to separate them and put a cutting board on top so that they don’t flip around as much, but they still have to be clean because all of those sauces won’t come out in the wash. They’ll just be hot AF from 140 degree water and I still have to clean them out.
This was especially taxing last night, because our business died down severely and there was only one cook and me left when the bar flooded with people wanting to watch the Capitals game (which we won- go Caps). I had to step up to the line and leave the dishes because there was no way one cook could keep up. So then it’s closing time, when we should have been done with most everything had the night gone according to plan, and I didn’t get home until 0200. Despite that, I am still eager to be back at work tonight, because it’s Sunday, which means we close earlier, business will be steady yet not overwhelming, and it will be a much more relaxed atmosphere, even if I have to both wash dishes and prep my brains out.
Last night, we were so busy that I didn’t even know the Capitals had won until I got home.
I am sure that this entry is very boring for those who don’t work in a restaurant, but I feel that I need to illustrate just how hard a job it is for people who think it is unskilled and not worth a good salary. How much would you want an hour if you had to dig out other people’s dirty food and condiments for eight hours at a clip? I’m betting I couldn’t pay you enough.
Plus, there’s all the pans we use to cook that have food caked on that the dish machine won’t clean on its own, so how much would I have to pay you to get you to scrub caked, burnt cheese out of skillets until your hands are cracked and bleeding from steel wool?
How quickly could you memorize where everything goes when it needs to be put away?
How quickly could you deep clean a kitchen so that no one is kept past their scheduled shifts by an hour or two?
How many of you would sign up for clothes that are beyond dirty and barely any time to get your laundry together before you have to be back at work? How many of you would sign up for a job that always leaves you soaked and smelling like old food? I’m wagering that of all my readers, not many. I realize that people coming to this country illegally is not necessarily the best policy, but immigrants are generally the ones willing to do those jobs in the first place. The “they’re stealing our jobs” trope is getting so tired, because the hospitality, farming, fishing, and crabbing industries are running out of people to employ, because the same people that say “they’re stealing our jobs” aren’t exactly lining up to get hired. Write it down.
Additionally, immigrants will work so cheaply that it’s what makes our groceries affordable. The cost of groceries will rise to support minimum wage and benefits, so enjoy your $14/lb tomatoes…. not that I’m opposed to them, necessarily, because all people should get a living wage and benefits. I’m just saying. Even if the cost of groceries rise, it’s still cheaper and better for you than eating in a restaurant.
The magic trick that I don’t see happening is people who want to be upwardly mobile and think they deserve high-powered jobs “lowering themselves” to become dishwashers and cooks. To wit:
Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.
I don’t see a lot of people with my attitude and optimism, because I absolutely know I’m doing important work. I am actively involved in an industry that makes other people happy, often at the expense of living my own life. For instance, I am not available to socialize during the hours when other people socialize, because I’m taking care of them. I make sure they have excellent food and clean dishes on which to eat. No one screams louder than people who don’t get both of those things….. more likely than not, people who are both opposed to immigration AND getting a job in the service industry.
It’s probably because they’d have to clean ramekins.