The 54th Deadline: A Dishwasher Job

A year and a half. It took a year and a half before I finally got my first job after graduating college. It was a dishwasher position for a restaurant in town. It was on a tryout basis for one dinner shift every Friday for a few weeks to see if I could keep up. I only got the nod after the other dishwasher at the restaurant called in sick. If that did not happen, I probably would not have been hired.

I didn’t care. I finally had a job after being long-term unemployed for so long.

Forget the fact that I had an actual college degree to my name. At that point in time, I needed anything to save me. And boy, hearing my phone ring on that fateful day meant a whole lot to me.

In that span of a year and a half, a lot of things happened. And without sugarcoating it, I can say at least 75 percent of it was bad for me by all means.

Mistake No. 1: Taking the Summer Off

To say I was burnt out after college would be a huge understatement. I was drained on all fronts: physically, mentally and emotionally. I just did not want to care about the real world for a while. I opted to take it easy, played a whole ton of League of Legends when that game was starting to get big. I slept in a lot, ate a lot of food and the whole nine yards.

As far as I was concerned, I “deserved” it. I needed a little vacation before I would get my first “big boy” job, or so I thought. However, I let my guard down too much and would just set myself up for a lot of heartaches plus a cruel life lesson when it came to disappointment.

During the summertime, I at least did my due diligence. I applied for so many jobs after graduating college. At the very least, I thought a few resumes would have found some bites here and there. I thought it would be easy. Employers would totally want to contact me right away for an interview. No sweat! I finished school and was ready for the next big step in adulthood!

But as summer came to a close…

Mistake No. 2: I Kept Looking Too High

After summer, I can tell you exactly how many job interviews I got that matched my college degree.

One. Just a single one. And I bombed it. Just like that, my chance to hit the ground running. Poof. Done like dinner.

Needless to say, I was devastated. From that point onward, things began to slip into a downward spiral of complete and utter depression. Let’s just say I started to LOATHE myself. I began to see myself as worthless, I became paranoid about the world being “out to get me” and I just started to further isolate myself.

All of the friends and peers I met in college gradually started to do their own things. They found their respective success in post-grad jobs, some started their own families, some began traveling and all of that jazz… Basically, most of them, at least from the perspective of the grass always being greener on the other, were doing great things. Conversely, I was just a loser in my own book.

What did I do instead? I just found myself just hounding my friends constantly for advice and calls to comfort me at my worst. I was so darn pathetic, far from being independent enough to take of myself. I was still living with my parents like a little kid, for crying out loud! It reached a point where many of my friends and peers started to stop talking to me. I was a nuisance. I don’t blame them.

Regardless, I kept trying. I kept persevering and trying to land that elusive job. If I did, everything would be OK! Everything will be back on course! My friends would want to talk to me and stuff! My mind kept telling me this over and over again…

But I did not approach this dilemma logically. My personal bank account was already running low. It got to the point where my dad had to toss me a few bucks here and there so I could pay for gas in the car and stuff… Everything in my life was falling apart, and I was just barely hanging on to my own sense of self-worth.

The best thing to do would have been for me to find a just-for-now job to tide me over. It would have been better than nothing. I could at least get some money coming my way, even if it were on a part-time basis.

But nope. I had pride as a college graduate. I was going to go places. I was going to do well. I was going to SUCCEED!

All of this pride, though, would just cause me to crash and burn.

Mistake No. 3: A Lot of Time to Think

So it happened. I just lost control of it all. The short version of this part of the personal journey was that I spent a lot of time “ thinking” about it all.

Where I went wrong.

What I could do to make it better.

Life became so confusing for me.

I often describe myself in this stage as an empty husk, something so devoid of life that I probably should have been hospitalized. Nah, I should have been in the hospital.

I was barely existing every day for a long, long time.

I would wake up, play League of Legends, go upstairs to eat and then go downstairs to play more League of Legends or watch Netflix or whatever. I would eventually sleep and repeat this process for many, many days afterward. This was my life for so many months. I am embarrassed that this is how things happened for me, but a rut is a rut.

Actually, scratch that. I was just trapped in my own quagmire full of self-pity. Trapped due to fear. Trapped due to insecurity.

Heck, a simple exercise kept me from losing it all. Or so I truly believe.


Yup, simply walking around the neighborhood for hours a day to clear my head kept me afloat. I did a lot of walking near the end of this year and a half. A lot of walking.

But it did me a lot of good because… I found…

A Thing Called Hope

Eventually, I found some light at the end of the tunnel.

I came in contact with one of my favorite teachers back in middle school. She had a son who worked at a local restaurant, and she had to tell her son that a former student really needed a job.

I later got an interview with the owner of the restaurant. He is a pretty cool guy, honestly. We casually had the job interview while sitting on the cargo bed of his truck. I just told him I was just trying to get things back in order, and that was that.

Later that week, I was hired as a dishwasher. It would be the start of this ongoing, personal journey I have been trying to get through to this day.

This was more than just a job. It was another chance at life itself. It has been more than five years since graduating college… And the story is still continuing.

“Hope is my catalyst”- Nhan Fiction

Like what you read? Give Nhan Pham a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.