2/15/2010

Washing the dishes

Last night I spent six hours at a dish machine, clearing out goop and grime left over from plates that had been served to people with more money than me. On some days, this kind of thing bothers me. Last night, however, I felt like I was doing the most honest work I'll do all year. I didn't have to talk to customers. I didn't have to do anything except be part of a team.

A chemical analysis of the dish sink would not be recommended. I plunged my hands into the bottom of the sink many, many times in search of something else to wash. Line pans. Skillets. Dishes. Knives. Spatulas. Tongs. Wine glasses. I cleaned it all.

Michael, the sous chef, was very patient with me. He reminded me to use a Brillo pad in order to get the encrusted black and brown stuff off of items that had been in the oven. He made sure I had the sink filled at least half way through. He kept telling me to add soap to make sure the grease was being sufficiently cut.

I had volunteered to do the shift because the regular dish guy had to be at one of his two other jobs. He's a nice guy, George. I was glad to make some extra cash to pay for everything I need to pay for in the coming weeks.

I wish I could say the experience has given me renewed energy to clean my house. Sadly, I don't seem to be able to apply the same amount of zeal to scrubbing my own floor, to getting around to my own dishes. I suppose it is a question of motivation. I don't feel much of it at the moment. This could be winter. This could be the lingering effects of recent tragedy. It could be that I've got a serious seven-year-itch in terms of being here in Charlottesville. It could simply be that there's no one around to tell me what to do.

The snow is falling again. I can't seem to find my gloves or my wool hat. I suppose I could use some of my hard-earned cash to replace these items, but I don't think that I will. I will improvise.

In a moment, I will drive to the gym in order to have my body jump-start my mind. I will take a broom with me to clear the windshield. My wipers are broken. Most of my car is broken, and I have less than two weeks to clear inspection. I've spent a lot of money getting half-way there, and I'll spend a lot more to clear the hurdle.

But what if I come up short? What if, despite all my best efforts, I fail anyway?

Last night, for those six hours, I got a temporary break from feeling like Sisyphus. None of the grime, the goop, the broken lobster shells, the bits of bone, the discarded lettuce, uneaten rice and squash bothered me.


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