Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Palisade Resturant Dishwasher: Another Story of Inequity & Woe

As I have said too many times already to countless passengers, the best (and worse) side of taxi is being assigned a very unique front row seat on life as it REALLY is, total and unblemished reality dumped on your lap, kind of like a clumsy waiter spilling the main course on your Sunday best.  That happened this past taxi Sunday when, upon missing two buses, the young man working as a dishwasher at one of Seattles' most prominent restaurants, had to grab a taxi to a job he had no interest in doing, desperate because his job as a non-profit office manager ended too many months ago.  The going rate for a dishwasher at the Palisade, located below the Magnolia Hill bluff, and famous for its sweeping view of DT Seattle and Elliott Bay, is $10.50 a hour.  The average menu item is $31-50.00.  His current wage is nine dollars less than his last position.  It cost him $20.00 to go from West Seattle to the restaurant, even after I had cut the meter at the Garfield Street Bridge, translating into essentially one quarter of his total daily wage. You should understand that Palisade policy is to begin tracking your time if you are late.  There is hell to pay if you are seven minutes plus late. The poor guy was spooked.  He could not be late.  As he said, he had alimony and rent to pay.  In other words he felt trapped.  He had returned to school but the schedule was just too much.  He now plans on taking one course at a time.

The bus ride and journey to work is in itself a testament of endurance.  First the walk to the bus stop, then the 15 minute wait DT for the bus which drops him about 3/4 of a mile from the restaurant.  He has little time to spare.  One miscalculation and the clock starts ticking on his precious job.  I offered to train him in the finer points of taxi driving.  As horrible as taxi is, it is heaven in comparison to this personal hell.

And you might do the math in relation to the Palisade customers.  Two $31.00 appetizers plus two $50.00 entrees & wine & dessert & coffee and a couple walks out of there with a $250-300. bill before the tip.  Believe me, this is one popular joint. Corporate types are always going in and out with their clients, their expense accounts ringing up grand totals. You should just hear their important conversations! And they pay the dishwashers $10.50 an hour!  I told him about my first job when I was 15, washing dishes, making the hash browns and doing about 5 other chores all for ONE DOLLAR a hour at the Air Park Truck Stop in Watkins, Colorado during the Summer of 1969. Yeah, you might say that on some level I understand what he is going through.  I did enjoy the 5 cents all-you-could-drink coffee at the Air Park.  Those were the days on the penny-pinching prairies!

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