Random Rant: Bathroom Attendants

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"The Attendant" by Thomas Thorspecken

Enjoy a new series of random rants on random topics, which will be posted at random in the coming months.

I am fascinated by many different kinds of people and jobs. Near the top of this fascination list is the individuals who hand out paper towels in bathrooms for a living. Everything about their situation and how to deal with them causes confusion whenever I take a bathroom break at one of the places they are employed.

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First off, what is their actual job title? Bathroom Attendant seems to be the accepted term, but I see them as Human Paper Towel Dispensers. I am aware they do more than hand you paper towels. They supervise the jar of mints and gum that I am sure many people desperately grab so their breath doesn’t smell like hockey equipment when they go back on the dance floor. In some situations there is even bottles of cologne for them to watch. I have never seen somebody use these and imagine you would have to smell as I am guessing Pau Gasol smells to pull the trigger on grabbing cologne off the sink. Do these multiple responsibilities at least bump them up to “Bathroom Manager?” It wouldn’t be fair to limit their job title to just the paper towel aspect of their work. The picture above is a little excessive, as I haven’t seen a bathroom quite like this. If you are buying peanuts or shampoo in a public bathroom you deserve a Swirly.

Second, what is the protocol on tipping them? Listen, I am Italian and hence I am perpetually sweaty and greasy. Every time I take a trip to the bathroom I am splashing water on my face to remove the latest film of grease and this usually requires 3-4 paper towels, which is above the standard rate. Should I be paying for this? I honestly feel bad asking the guy for an extra one or two sheets. He always gives me the look like I am taking something special from him or negatively impacting his business, so I am always forced to come back with some lame excuse for my need of extra towels…”man, it is so crowded and hot out there, you can barely breath.” Why am I feeling the need the explain my sweat and why I am being guilted into giving a dollar or two for paper towels?

paper towel dispenserImagine if this scenario played out with toilet paper…you would be feeling pressure with each wipe to make sure you didn’t need another rip off the roll while the guy stares menacingly at you. This is how I feel as I try to dry off my face and hands with the one sheet of paper towel and debate whether it is worth bartering with the bathroom guardian for another round. It is either go in for more paper towels…or go back out there with wet hands, so people assume I pissed all over myself, and a wet face so I look sweatier than I did before I went into the bathroom.

I don’t want to argue to put people out of a job but can’t we put these people to better use? Are we that lazy of a nation that we can’t pull out our own paper towels and buy our own gum before we go out for the night? …I guess I do understand why we need them.

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