I want to talk about How I Became a Dishwasher with Autism. I think you will be able to relate to it somewhat because people with Asperger’s really like repetition and there’s just some things, like with washing dishes, that’s actually a very exciting trade for many people.
How I Became a Dishwasher with Autism
So I’m going to just start from the beginning. I’m also going to talk about my addiction to alcohol and drugs and what happened to that – and what happened to my restaurant work, what I did with the restaurant industry and what I’m doing now, so stay till the very end. You might be surprised.
So, the first job I got when I was 16 was washing dishes at a seafood restaurant, it was called the Sea Galley. It was actually a big chain on the west coast for quite some time, and I believe the one that I worked at was the original sea galley, which started in the 60s or something like that.
So it was on a wharf. There was water under the restaurant, and you could hear the waves crashing on the pillars. If you’re in the bathroom, you could probably hear the water hitting the pillars under the restaurant, it was really cool.
It was kind of a rundown restaurant, but they still did a lot of volume, it was a very successful popular restaurant in the 80s and 90s in Port Townsend, Washington, and they did probably about 200 covers a night so it was really hopping.
I was very naive for a 16 year old, my parents sheltered me growing up, we moved out of Southern California when I was five, to get away from the violence and the gangs, and my dad loved sailing, so we moved to the sea Port of Port Townsend, where he could sail on the weekends. We moved up from Newport Beach, California.
So it was a very cute Victorian town, probably only 5000 people lived there in the 80s, and I loved it. It was a very safe town. I could walk from one end of town to the other and feel completely safe and I had a tight knit group of friends, and it was all good. But I was very sheltered and I was very naive, I didn’t really understand the real world. I didn’t know how it worked.
I had Asperger’s. I didn’t know it then, but I was very self centered, I could play alone for hours at a time doing repetitive things like staring at the wall or rocking back and forth looking out the window and daydreaming.
So when I got my first job I had no idea what that entailed. So I started washing dishes at night, and there’s another dishwasher with me, because it was such a busy restaurant.
We had a small dishwasher though, and the plates would get super hot, we’re talking like 200 degrees. We could barely touch them. We’d have to spray them off with the cold water after pulling them out of the dishwasher just to handle them.
But what I really liked about this restaurant was the crazy unpredictability of the people that worked there.
There was some kind of weird thing going on with the waitresses and the cooks. All the cooks were like rockers, with long hair, and they wore backwards baseball caps, and the waitresses were either hating on the cooks, or they were flirting with the cooks.
So it was one or the other, they either loved them or they hated them, and the cooks were all guys, and they would always tease the waitresses, and they were doing cocaine in the bathroom, and having sex back in the back alley at night.
As a 16 year old I was looking at this, like, what the heck is going on but I was drawn to it. There was something about it that I was drawn to. It was the dark side of life, and I would eventually become dark as well but at this point I was just amazed. It was better than TV.
It was better than my fantasies, watching these cooks and these waitresses, you know, just being slutty and doing drugs and all this stuff, because at this point in my life, I hadn’t even drunk beer yet.
So when I started drinking when I was 17, I had no idea the power of it, I thought that one beer would make me wasted. I really didn’t know the extent of alcohol and what it would do.
Before that first job, I was just rocking back and forth, and I listened to music I loved, Judas Priest and Ozzy and Iron Maiden, I used to just rock back and forth and listen to music while daydreaming about getting the bullies back in school.
I couldn’t get a girlfriend. I was awkward. I was weird, I was quiet, and I could play alone for hours.
So when I finally got that job, it was just mind blowing how crazy they were but there was something raunchy and raw and exciting about this restaurant and these workers that eventually I started to emulate them, especially when alcohol hit my lips.
I discovered that I loved alcohol. It’s like a magic potion that I’ve been waiting for my whole life, because I was so quiet and insecure that alcohol gave me that liquid courage. I felt so alive on alcohol the first few years, and drinking and working in the restaurant industry went hand in hand.
I mean everyone partied after they got off work, but you know I’m 16 to 17 years old. You know, I’m not invited to go out with those guys. I’m just a kid. I have to go home after work, and we used to work until 1am to 2am.
We’re still washing the mats from the floors and taking out the garbage at 2am on a Saturday night, and there’s just this wildness in the air, you know, taking the garbage out to the dumpster on a hot August night, hearing the crazy people in the bar next door, fights and people flirting and doing all this crazy stuff and I just fantasized about what they were doing but I wasn’t invited.
So when I was 18, I was attracted to abnormal psychology and schizophrenia. The artwork from schizophrenics just blew my mind and I started to get drawn towards the dark side more and more.
I started experimenting with LSD and I was very scared about it in the very beginning but then I was starting to do it a lot more, and I wasn’t scared about it at all, I wanted to go insane. I told a friend one time, I wanted to go crazy.
So I was taking a lot of LSD to do that because somewhere in my life I didn’t want to be like my parents, they were very straight. So I went the opposite direction, and there was something that I was drawn to, Abnormal Psychology and people that were weird, destructive artists and rockers.
Something really drove me to them, and I became a destructive person I did some art, I did some rock and roll myself but I never got famous or rich, but in my own mind, I was a rock and roll drummer, who abused alcohol, nearly died from it later in life, had a heart attack when I was 32 from it gotten tons of trouble, nearly destroyed my life.
Then, I worked my way up to becoming a cook in the restaurant industry, but I always loved washing dishes because of the repetition, watching the food fly off of it when you spray it with water.
There’s just something exciting about it, all the different types of dishwashers I’ve used, there’s actually an ebook online. This guy wrote a book called The dishwasher one man’s quest to wash dishes in all 50 states by Pete Jordan, and it’s a book on Amazon.
He started with writing a zine called the dishwasher, and I remember finding one of those in the 90s and reading it, Zine is like a little magazine, usually homemade. And it was crazy because I found him two decades later, he wrote an ebook on Amazon so I read that. Very exciting.
People with Asperger’s love repetition, and they love routine – and I’ve been working from home for the last five years, but if I have to go back to get a job, it would definitely be either washing dishes, or mowing lawns, because I love repetition.
I don’t like a lot of stress. When I was a line cook, it was just crazy. It was so fast, I felt like I had to cook all of the orders at once. I was running around with my head cut off, and either drunk or hungover sometimes, and had a heart attack.
So, these days, I want to just have a low key job if I ever do have to go back to work, dishwashing is really cool and I never get bored of it, you know, I do get stressed out because sometimes the cooks and the waitresses will slam the dishwasher all at once, late at night, and I hate that.
But, that’s my story, I’ll do more of these videos/articles, leave a comment. What kind of jobs do you like? Have you ever washed dishes before? Do you like mowing lawns, what other types of repetitive jobs do you like?
I know a lot of people like data entry and they like working with numbers, you know, do you like programming. Do you like writing code? Do you blog, do you do YouTube videos, leave a comment, and thanks for watching and we’ll talk to you soon.
Erik C Johnson