At 15 years old, my first real job was bussing tables at Starvin' Arvin's, a much-loved breakfast chain in Southern Colorado. Every weekend I was elbows deep in bleach-wet towels and syrupy breakfast dishes. I didn't enjoy the work, but the waitresses were flirty and I was getting paid, so it wasn't all bad.
Over the last 20 years I've been a barista, a bartender, a dishwasher, a short order cook, and a server. I've opened and I've closed. I carry in my wallet both a valid food handler's card and Oregon Liquor Control Commission server's permit like tattered paper security blankets.
But I'll admit that my entrenched misanthropic tendencies often made it difficult for me to serve. I loved the adrenaline of a busy bar or a packed dining room or a stack of lunch tickets, but I disdained the customers.
During my interview with Clyde Common's dishwasher Josh Waid, I asked, "What makes a good service person?"
"Hating people a little less than anyone else," he replied.
This issue is dedicated to the people who keep the Portland restaurant industry humming day and night. From the front of house, to the back of house, we've crammed ourselves into the city's sharp, hot kitchens to get the stories of those who make it happen; the ones who "hate people a little less," the ones who keep Portland drunk and fed. We should have bought them all a beer. I bet they'd settle for a generous tip.More of the FOOD ISSUE here!