Awkward Conversation With the Dishwasher

mexican-stereotypeI always try to make it a habit to be friendly with the back of the house guys. Their jobs are way harder than mine and their hours suck, specifically, the dishwasher. I always feel bad for the dishwasher because I know he is the first one to get there and the last one to leave. Our dishwasher is named Angel but everyone calls him Baby. His English is not very good but it’s still way better than my Spanish. Some people may look at him as “just a dishwasher” but if anyone can speak two languages, they get all my respect and then some, since my stupid ass can barely get through one language.

Most of our conversations are like this:

Baby: How are you?

Me: I’m good. Cómo estás?

Baby: Good. How are you?

Me: Good. And you?

Baby: Good.

And so on and so on…

A few days ago, we ventured into our most awkward conversation ever. As I am emptying a tray of glasses, Baby asks me how old I am. I don’t mind telling people my age but most of the time they are surprised when I tell them. My youthful appearance (good, clean livin’…) and the fact that I wear an apron for a living tends to make people think I am younger than I actually am.

“46,” I say. ‘I will be 47 in a couple of months.”

Baby’s eyes grow wide in much the same way mine do when I see a brand new bottle of vodka. “Really?” he asks. I don’t know if he is shocked or saddened.

“How old are you?” I ask him.

He tells me he is 19, meaning he was born in 1995, meaning that The Cure t-shirt I sleep in is older than he is.

So far, this isn’t that awkward, but wait.

“I’m probably older than your dad, right?” I say. “How old is your dad?”


“How old is your father?” I repeat.

“Oh…” He looks down for a brief second and then his eyes meet mine. Very quietly and with much sincerity he says, “I don’t have a father.”

Okay, so now I officially feel like an asshole. I’m just trying to have a light conversation with the dishwasher and I feel like I just opened up this 19-year old wound of hurt and sorrow. He has no dad. No father taught him how to throw a ball or helped him shave for the fisrt time or gave him a set of tools for his 18th birthday. What a dick I am. I don’t quite know how to respond, so I ask him how old his mother is. All this, to simply poke fun at my own age.

He smiles at the question and replies, “Treinta y seis.” He can tell I am trying to figure out what those words mean and he follows it with, “Thirty six.”

“Thirty-six? Man, I’m ten years older than your mother!” I say, but as the words are coming out of my mouth, I do some quick math in my head and realize that his mom was just 17 years old when she birthed him out. Basically, I just reminded Baby that his mother was a ho who doesn’t know who got her pregnant. Nice job.

I smile nervously. “Treinta y seis, huh? See I’m so old. Man, am I ever old. Ha ha ha… Anyhoo, can you wash the silver for me, por favor? Yo neccisito mas silverware. Gracias.”

From now on, I might just stick with our “how are you/I’m good” conversations.

11 thoughts on “Awkward Conversation With the Dishwasher

  1. Peter

    My job is so backwards. The dishwashers arrive last and 9 times out of 10 ALWAYS leave before the front of house staff. (Line cooks have no problem bailing on dishwashers though) And then they get pissy when there are dirty dishes waiting for them in the morning.

  2. Vaanja

    He only says ‘mustard and mayo’ when he’s answering a question, a la Dear Abby. He doesn’t sign off like that on his editorial-type pieces.

  3. White Russian

    people get awkward with me sometimes ))) I’m Russian, but sometimes customers can’t tell the accent – either their hearing aid is on low or they think I’m from Boston or upstate New York or something. So there were a few times when customers were discussing politics or immigration and tried to involve me into conversation. It’d be like –

    – Those damn reds, they think they can do whatever hell they want. High time we nuked their ass and showed comrades who’s in charge. If I could I’d hang every soviet on each tree in Siberia. Ain’t it right, young blood?!
    – I don’t know sir, I’m Russian myself so you might ‘swell start with me. Would you like some more sweet tea?


    – Those Mexicans are taking over. But at least they wash dishes. Those red comrades are way worse. They come here and bring their Russian mafia, like we ain’t got enough headache without them. They come here, can’t say a word in English, take our jobs, and then sell guns and dope on the side. We should deport each stinking Russian out of the country and give jobs to our sports, ain’t it right, young man?

    – I don’t know sir, I’m Russian myself and I would prefer to stay here so I could bring you some more of those lemons and splenda.

      1. White Russian

        you’ll be surprised lol
        yes, honestly, most people are nice and friendly and I can’t complain, but those few that are not – well, they’re worth making it to the posts like that.

        I had people snapping their fingers at me and calling – “hey you, Russian!” and I had regulars bringing me bday presents or call the restaurant to ask if I was ok because there was a piece of news about a Russian guy who died in an accident.
        people are people. I can only be happy to deal with good ones and laugh at others.

  4. Nathan Partyka

    I have the utmost respect for my dishwashers because they do carry a lot of the restaurnts burden. Don’t feel bad Bitchy, you didn’t know and you never know about someone unless you talk to them. I’ve worked with people who haven’t bothered to learn the dishwashers name for after working with them for a year. That’s what’s sad in my case.

  5. Barbie

    Cuvietos = silverware… My kitchen Spanish is pretty good from working graveyards at Denny’s years ago. 😉

  6. April

    That’s probably better than the conversations my husband had with the dishwasher he worked at. The dishwasher spoke almost no English, and my husband spoke no Spanish. and yet they both managed to have hours of fun teaching each other the racial insults each of their races had for the other. And dirty words in each language. But hey, they were pretty good friends for two people who spoke in gestures, racial insults and dirty words


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