I was a teen-age pot washer!

My wife and I divide up the household chores pretty evenly. More often than not, I’m the one who puts the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and gets to scrub the pots and pans in the kitchen sink. Every time I wash the pots and pans, it brings back old memories.

I got a part-time job in my senior year of high school, working in the kitchen of a local hospital. We guys were called “porters” and we did the floor-mopping and pot-scrubbing while the girls were called “tray girls” and they delivered the food trays to the patients and picked up the empty containers and silverware afterwards. My future-wife was one of the tray girls, which was how we met. Anyway, back to washing pots and pans. Man, that was a tough job! Scraping the baked-on or fried-on food crust off of those big, commercial pans, letting them soak in the huge sink, and then scouring them. The large sheet pans that were used to cook scrambled eggs were the worst. Argh! It was especially tough in the warm weather, working over that hot water with no air conditioning. By the end of my shift, the front of my work uniform was completely drenched.

We highschoolers worked only in the afternoon/evenings and on weekends. The guys who washed pots and pans as a full-time job during the day came from a temp agency called Manpower and generally didn’t last too long. It was not a pleasant job. The guys were generally high-school drop-outs, alcoholics, immigrants, etc.

Well, I got a job at one of the local GM factories in August 1974 right after high school and my wife and I were married soon after. The auto manufacturing industry had a lot of seasonal layoffs until you built up your union seniority and I was subsequently laid off in January. With a lot of time on my hands, I visited my old hospital kitchen stomping grounds. The boss told me their latest full-time pot washer had just quit and asked if I would take the job. I thought, sure, why not? GM would be calling me back soon. So I started washing pots and pans as a living. One month turned into two, then three, then four, then five.

Being a professional pot washer was a humbling experience. After six months, I had had enough and I transferred to the hospital’s Radiation/Oncology department as an orderly/transporter. Six months after that, I signed on with Eastman Kodak.

When I wash pots and pans at home, I think about my time at the hospital. I enjoyed working with all of the people in the kitchen even though the work was very, very tough. I know from God’s Word that there’s dignity in all honest work. God doesn’t esteem a CEO or successful entrepreneur over people with less-glamorous professions. The Bible includes many examples of people of humble backgrounds who were full of faith. In fact, in many Biblical accounts, we see that the more wealth and prestige individuals had, the more temptation there was to fall into sin. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself by coming to this Earth and appeared first to people lying in an animal trough. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus had no place to even lay His head. Although we know from His Word that God is no respecter of persons and commands us not to be either, we often succumb to how society ranks people over others due to income, profession, education, celebrity, etc. We see that kind of preferential treatment even within our “church culture.”

When we think we are SOMETHING, watch out!

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” – Proverbs 16: 18-19.

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23 thoughts on “I was a teen-age pot washer!

    1. The hospital was 5 miles from my family’s house but my girlfriend’s family’s apartment turned out to be only 1.5 miles from our house. She went to an all-girls Catholic high school.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Your post made me think about those time as a junior Marine with all sorts of janitorial cleaning from chow hall duty cleaning things, cleaning vehicles after we were heading from Iraq, cleaning weapons, swabiing floors and making sure the restroom (we call it head) was clean. How humbling, sanctifying and sweaty cleaning dirty things! They say every marine is a rifleman but I think its more true every marine is a janitor lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One positive about simple, basic jobs: there’s usually little if any stress. I actually treasure that experience now. And when I wash pots and pans each night, I can apply my a professional know-how! My wife won’t let me clean the toilets because she says I don’t do a thorough job.

      Liked by 1 person

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