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sabot Wooden Shoe Books: anarchist and radical literature
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Book Reviews ...

Book: Dishwasher by Pete Jordan
Review by: James Generic (Posted:10.7.2007)

I really like stories of people's jobs, and no one I've ever read about has had more jobs then Dishwasher Pete. The author of the long-run cult favorite zine "Dishwasher" has put out this great book by the same name. Pete decided at a very long age when he had a hard time figuring out what he wanted to do for his life, that he liked to travel and see the country, and that dishwashing was the way to do it. He put up a goal of going to all 50 states to wash dishes. This is his autobiography of those journeys. And as a former dishwasher, I love this even more.

It's one of those books you can't put down because it's so wild. He talks about his time aboard oil rigs, loads of evil, sick, and twisted bosses, grungy work conditions, the ability to quit a job that screws with him in any possible way (and believe me, he takes advantage of that, fulfilling the impulse of every worker in America.) Along the way, as he puts out his zine, he develops a reputation as a "Master Dishwasher" and treats the reader to the underground world of dishwashing, of sorts, like eating off of the bus tray buffet (sometimes I never got enough of when I was working as a pearl diver). He ends up on David Letterman (actually, just a friend of his impersonating him), has tons of near dates, and tells about the great history of dishwasher unions and the loyalty they have (to the exclusion of the servers and the cooks.) He doesn't spare the reader of descriptions of nasty kitchens full of roaches and rodents, and drinking on the job to pass it by.

Pete really lives a lot of people's dreams, and refuses to let it end until he's at the age of 35, having been to every state in the union and seen a lot more than most people do in their whole lives. He's got such a sense of humor that's so self-deprecating but at the same time proud that he doesn't let anyone tell him how to be. Everywhere from racist Louisiana restaurant owners to hippy communes who try to sucker him into doing more than he wants, Pete always seems to end up on top. He lives dollar to dollar and makes every buck count in his travels, but always confident he can find another job, because once you washed one dish, you can wash any dish.

Wooden Shoe Books • 704 South Street • Philadelphia, PA 19147 • • (215) 413-0999