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A window on the service industry

Being able to peek into the world of dishwashers sheds light on the value of their work.

Image

Mark Thomson

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While making feature photos of the service in­dustry, I came across this scene at a restaurant in Somerville, Mass. At first glance, the image may seem mun­dane, but, for me, it was intriguing and evoked strong memories of my formative years working as a dishwasher.

The scene interested me because of the window, which is presumably there to expedite the steady flow of dirty plates and cutlery but also allows the customer a peek into the world of the dishwasher.

Typically, the forgotten souls in the "back of the house" are kept as far away from diners as possible while the sparkling clean dishes magically appear for the patrons. But here, one can see this type of work, which, in my experience, is hot, thankless, and seemingly never-ending.

Despite my downbeat recollections, I'm grateful for having learned the value in this type of labor. I hope that the people here look up from their meals and get a glimpse into the lives of those who do the difficult jobs that are seldom witnessed.


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