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Pete Williams Posted a Blog Post

By Waiterstoday @Waiters_Today

The book Down and out in Paris and London is a favorite read of mine and its pages resonate with some similar experiences i endured to the semi autobiographical account of Orwell’s times as a Parisian Plongeur. published 1933.

I was studying at a music tech school at one time when someone I shared a class with passed me on to this book. Having told my classmate I was working as a Potwasher he suggested i read this book with reference to the Parisian Plongeur who toiled a thankless job for hours on end a day. My classmate related my job to Orwell’s real life account in the book, and for me at the time, this could’nt have been more apt. during the time I grafted at the sink with the rank,greasy water covering my forearms, this book was uncanny reading between work and study.

Orwell’s memoirs recount that he lost work teaching english to his students and the theft of his money forced him into destitution. he found work at the Hotel X and began slogging away in the bowels of the basement as a Plongeur (Dishwasher), where choas and filth were rife in the back areas away from the rich clientelle who ate unaware in the restaurant. later on he reunites with his old russian friend Boris who persuades Orwell to leave his job for a soon to be opened establishment. this turns out for the worse as the owner is seemingly in financial troubles.

His story gives testimony to the painstaking sloth a plongeur had to endure,how a plongeur is paid only enough to sustain his life,and the stark telling that in fact, getting the sack (fired) is the only holiday for these unfortunate souls. it sound like they were hamsters on a wheel, alot of hard work but going nowhere.

In comparison, my times as a Potwasher could not have come close to Orwells harrowing fourteen hour days, but I had my fair share of pain in any case, i can recall how the spirit crushing mountain of burnt pans sadly offered not one iota of job satisfaction. The best part of the job was the finality of emptying the rank, fetid water down the drain after mopping.

When compared to our times especially with industrial detergents and automatic washers, we can scarcely grumble. times for me in the Kitchen could be rough on functions and weddings etc, having to walk in to a scene of ordered choas,crockery everywhere, bins overflowing, people scuttling about stacking plates tall and procariously, Orwell would easily find a bite to eat and a quick cigarette break if he lived nowadays.

If like me you are, or going to work washing pots, this book comes a highly reccomended read during your off hours, it wont seem so bad when you’ve sweated like a sappling pig at work in light of Orwell’s grim ordeal, his book has lots of appeal even though from a perspective of old times, it still holds its revelance to todays system and makes us think we have’nt got it so hard


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