At Monday’s reading I scored the last issue of the Dishwasher zine. #16 has been eight years in the making. “The cover page,” Pete writes, “was printed in 1999. This sentence was composed in 2007. … After I first started working (and procrastinating) on #16, I went and quit my fifty-state mission, got married, moved abroad [Amsterdam], and wrote the book Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States. … Some of the covers sat in an attic in Portland OR, others in an attic in Pittsburgh. The remainder, the ones that sat in a shed in New Orleans, would later sit under flood waters for several weeks.”
#16 includes a story about working the dishpit of a cafeteria, dishwasher related excerpts from miscellaneous books (from Sidney Poitier’s autobiography we read how Poitier’s first audition was abruptly shut down and he was cursed, ‘Just go on and get out of here and get yourself a job as a dishwasher or something.’), memorials to two friends and fellow dishers who died along the way, and “18 Arguments Against Raising the Minimum Wage Refuted.” One of my favorites is the one that goes Most minimum wage workers “are teenagers [or] college students” and don’t “really need the extra money” they would get were the wage increased. As Pete retorts, “People who work shitty jobs for shitty pay don’t do it for charity. They do it precisely because they need the money.”
It was nice to meet Pete. After he read from the book he entertained questions. Mine went, “I noted how, as you were travelling around the country, you would stop in at the homes of some of the people who would write to you.” I don’t know that that was a question, actually. But he responded, looking straight at me, “I wrote back to every person who wrote to me.”
I guess I was wondering if, had I written to Pete, I would one day have picked up the phone and found he was calling from a nearby pay phone about to visit. Would I have managed to be a charming host? Or is my suspicious, antisocial hermit self too big an obstacle?
I see Pete's myspace page already has 1100 friends.
I’m not sure what issue of Dishwasher was the first I discovered. Perhaps it was #4. It looks familiar. Someday I'll run onto the box where I've stashed 'em.