Dishwasher Pete

By Mike Johnson

Dishwasher Pete plied his trade in all 50 states during the 1990's. He published his own 'zine about the experiences and landed two visits on Letterman.

On the first, he sent an imposter.

There are many ways to live.

Pete's career was hatched after he told the manager at Jack-in-the-Box to F-off for bawling him out for bad customer service. Pete wasn't fired, just assigned to washing dishes so he'd never encounter customers.

Pete considered it a good trade. Anonymity and little responsibility while still getting a paycheck.

Pete liked to travel so he hatched a plan to fund it by washing dishes in all 50 states. "Dishwasher Pete" was born.

17 states short of his quest, he then wrote a book sharing his experiences, "Dishwasher."

The last I heard, Pete had met a woman, moved to Amsterdam and jumped in the bicycle business.

I heard of Dishwasher Pete in the 1990's and bought one of his zines. I'd been a dishwasher myself so was moved by the magic Pete captured in his stories.

For about 15 minutes I considered hitting the road myself. I admire quirky and playful.

Everyone is an example to somebody. There are many ways to live.

Access Dishwasher Pete's interview in the New York Times here: Everything and the Kitchen Sink: Memoir of a Dishwasher"


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