That would be me. Roger, a cook at the now defunct Richbrau, formerly of 14th and East Cary Street in Richmond, Va., gave me that name. I got it because I’d run on about some piece of tech I was enamored with, or some bit of pop-psych I’d picked up in a book I’d read, or some other philosophical epiphany that had come to me while filling idle time with another library book while churning out clean dishes. He couldn’t reckon a dishwasher who had a college degree in English, was widely and deeply read. Dishwashers were supposed to be from Central America, speak mostly Spanish, work like demons, and stupid as the bricks walls of the restaurant.
I was an anomaly. Guys like me were not supposed to be pushing out trays of clean beer glasses and silverware. We should be smoking Gallous cigarettes at Babe’s on West Cary Street while talking about the upcoming release party of our next novel. Yet, there I was, in a vinyl apron, pissing off the wait staff because I’d sent out another tray of glasses and silverware 30 minutes before their shift ended. I know how to do two things well. Crank out clean dishes, pots & pans in a busy restaurant and drive a cab.
With dishwashing I don’t have to be social. Everybody can kiss my ass. The one thing the restaurant wants of me is to keep the place clean. Simple. Cab driving is a subtle art where done well it seems effortless. The driver is an automaton who hears your destination, drives there, collects the fare, drops you off and drives off into the night. Sometimes you talk to them and are entertained, sometimes not. But it is complex and dangerous work requiring intelligence and training beyond the few hours you get before passing your exam for your hacks license. I won’t get into what’s needed here.
I got the name Psycho Dish from a drug addict, ex-felon sous chef who had his brain fried by my presence. It didn’t help that I fought him off the waitresses he wanted to screw by hitting him in the grapes with a wet towel. Nor did it help that his one bellow at me to stop this or he’d beat my ass ended with him sprawled across the wet tile floor of the kitchen nursing a couple bruised limbs. No, I didn’t strike him. I just helped him hit the stainless steel work table used to prepare food for the line and bounce off the walk-in door. Never touched him. Think, Steven Segal. He learned not to mess with me or any waitress I was protecting. He called me crazy, Psycho because in his little ghetto mind that’s the only noun that fit. Am I crazy? Probably. I’ve learned to keep it together enough to have the little that I have. Roger was probably right about me. Still, he’s been seen on the streets of Richmond with a cardboard sign and I’ve got this job that pays twice what I’m used to making. I’ll call that a win. The cook and the psycho-dishwasher battle is won by the crazy dishwasher. It makes the name something new.