Adventures of an Assistant Dishwasher
Chapter Two

by GJ Caulkins


     Our restaurant had two factions: the Kitchen and the Servers -  those who prepared the food and those who
put it on the tables. There was constant friction between the two. On a busy night, one mistake by either side
could escalate the tensions to the brink of violence. A steak too well done meant that the goddamn Kitchen was
trying to screw a Server out of his tips. A changed order was clearly a goddamn Server who was fucking with the
     Both sides viewed the other as somewhat incompetent and vastly inferior, while secretly worrying that the other
side might be right. The dishwashing station was the DMZ between the two tribes. Servers and Bussers dumped
dishes in my sink, and the Kitchen took delivery of what I cleaned. Neither side claimed me as their own, but fancied
myself part of the Kitchen.
     While the Kitchen and Servers skirmished to see who should look down upon whom, neither was the lowest
caste. A third group was forever at the bottom: Cleanup Crew -  two sorry, anonymous bastards who showed up
before sunrise and cleaned up the mess from the night before.
     The heavy rubber mats that grid the kitchen floor were taken out in six foot sections, hosed off with scalding
water, then reinstalled. The ovens were degreased with “Pink Death”  - a caustic goop that burned the eyes and
lungs, and scarred any skin left exposed. Cleanup Crew vacuumed up the roaches under the dining room seat
cushions, changed the rat traps, swept, mopped, dusted, buffed and scrubbed. If there was any time left before
Servers and Kitchen staff arrived, Cleanup Crew washed the leftover dishes.
     No one talked to the Cleanup Crew. They were filthy, nameless wraiths, who punched out just as everybody
else was punching in. So it wasn’t surprising that nobody knew what I did when I wasn’t the Assistant Dishwasher.
Six mornings per week, I was one half of the Cleanup Crew.
     The other half was Joel.
     Joel was everything Doc was not. He bitched constantly. To hear him tell it, his was a life of victimization; a
string of wrongs stretching from his birth to his inevitable, sorrowful demise. He was overworked, underpaid,
unappreciated and unloved. And THAT was the reason he was such a slacker.
     I vacuumed the restaurant while Joel hunted down any booze the bartender forgot to put away. I wrestled
the slimy floor mats out the door while Joel smoked cigarettes and told stories about the women who dumped
him. Despite his aura of lazy doom, I liked Joel.
     And the day when he produced a fifth of Cuervo he had purloined from the bar, I liked him even more. After
our shift, we went back to his place to drink it. We got sloppy drunk, and listened to Joel’s collection of old blues
 LP’s until I passed out on his floor.
     As the Summer stretched out towards Fall, I found myself at Joel’s more often. Eventually it became routine.
After cleaning up the restaurant, I’d go to Joel’s and get loaded. Fridays and Saturdays I’d go from the restaurant,
to Joel’s, then right back again to wash dishes.
      We rarely got falling down drunk like we did during my first visit, but we I smoked a tremendous amount of
weed. And like a million stoners before us, we fell into a comfortable routine of familiar lethargy and called it
friendship. And like a million other bongwater friendships, it changed when the routine changed.
     Joel made a new friend. And he introduced us. And at first, I thought his new friend was pretty damn sweet.
His new friend was opium. But there just wasn’t room for all three of us.

Chapter Three

  Copyright  2007 GJCaulkins

G J lives in Northern California. Easily bored and utterly lacking in focus, he dabbles in everything from pottery, to cartooning, to airbrushing T-Shirts. His
cartoons have been published in both hemispheres and were recently discontinued in the largest newspaper in Yolo County. His work (if you can call it that)
can be found at www.mightywombat.com.

Oh, and Gord can totally kick Steve's ass at any video game you put in front of him... usually while drawing a cartoon, drinking a beer and cleaning his airbrush.
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