Book Review: Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest To Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan


I’m the official dishwasher in our household and love travel and eccentric characters so it was natural for me to want to read Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest To Wash Dishes in All Fifty States (2007) by Pete Jordan.  It is pretty much what it’s long subtitle say it is:  a ten-plus year journey around the United States washing dishes in different establishments that reads as part travelogue, part memoir, part humor, part worker’s manifesto and suspiciously at times like a big put on. The basic gist is that at a young age Pete Jordan discovers he has no customer service aptitude and no desire to hold a job with any real responsibility.  Since dishwashing is really the lowest job around because no one wants to do it, getting a job as a dishwasher is generally as simple as walking in and asking.  Leaving the job can be similarly serendipitous.  Jordan decides that he can see the country by working as a dishwasher just long enough to get the money to move on to another job and another state.  Along the way he dishes at a commercial fishery, a summer camp, a Jewish retirement home, an offshore oil rig, a dinner train and a commune as well as dozens of Mom & Pop restaurants.  He also takes a great interest in the history of dishwashing, it’s role in labor movements, and some famous plongeurs:  Malcom X, George Orwell, and Gerald Ford among them. This was a fun book.  Inspiring, humorous, and a little annoying at times (especially at the beginning when you just want to cuff him by the ear).  Read it and you may wish to travel the country looking for the handmade plaques Jordan made to mark the sites of great moments in dishwashing history.

Author Jordan, Pete.
Title Dishwasher : one man’s quest to wash dishes in all fifty states / Pete Jordan.
Publication Info. New York : Harper Perennial, c2007.
Edition 1st ed.
Description 358, 16 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.

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