It's the worst feeling in the world. Especially for a guy. The one place on earth you think you're going to be left alone, the bathroom, turns out to not only be a place where you're forced to engage in painful, and completely unnecessary, small talk, but one where you're expected to reach into your pocket, as well.
Seeing a bathroom attendant standing there is a much more soul-crushing experience for men than women. For, unlike you ladies, we men do not use the bathroom as a place to socialize. Just the opposite. Case in point: when was the last time you saw a group of guys say "good idea!" to five of them going to pee at one time? And, why else, since the day I was born, when asked where my father was, would my mother reply, "in his office."
For us gents, the bathroom is our "sanctuary" (cue the chorus of angels). From the dawn of civilization, the bathroom has been a place for self-reflection. For a few minutes of peace and quiet. For temporary shelter from however many annoying in-laws might be lurking just outside those ivory doors. Thus, upon entering a restaurant or hotel bathroom, and seeing that guy standing there, eager to present to your now filthy-and-contaminated hands a fresh, clean towel, it's no wonder you greet them with a mixture of faux cheer and contempt. Kind of like that moment when you open your girlfriend or wife's birthday present and have to feign jubilation at a pink sweater. I don't know of a single guy who walks into an attended men's room and thinks "Oh, goodie!"
Not to mention, there are many levels of psychological games that now ensue between you and said attendant. Not that it's mandatory, but if you don't give something for the privilege of being helped go to the bathroom, he looks at you like you're the reason his family won't be eating Christmas dinner this year. And, on top of that, now I can't fix my hair, as the last thing I need is to be the catalyst for some stranger sending a "twitpic" from the men's room how guys are worse than girls when it comes to vanity. Suddenly, this minimum wage restaurant employee knows more of my innermost secrets than my shrink. How did this happen? All I wanted to do was pee.
And, what's the objective from the management side? Do you think I'll think your restaurant is more fancy if I have to pay a dollar to some tuxedo-clad toll taker to urinate? "Their food sucked, but I'm definitely going back for the ambiance of their men's room. It's five stars!"
While we're at it, what's with all that crap on the counter? Has anyone ever actually bought any of the products or candies so neatly displayed for your consumption? Aqua Velva? Brylcreem? Butterfingers? Is this Tavern on the Green or my grandfather's condo? And, what's with the 15 different types of aftershave? As if all men perfume their faces and eat sweets immediately after touching themselves?
I recently spoke with one men's room attendant who said he didn't know this was the job he was applying for when he answered an ad for "Restaurant Help." Perhaps he doubles as the chef? (It would certainly explain why most of the food there tastes like sh#t.)
I have nothing against anyone trying to earn a living, especially in this economy. But, are you telling me the only job you're qualified for is to stand on your feet for eight-hour shifts watching men of all shapes and sizes relieve themselves? If the powers that be really want to put bathroom attendants in places they're appreciated, how about using them at those baby-changing stations? I know my sister would happily pay a dollar to have someone there whose job it was to help her change my nephew's poopie-diaper.
For now, I guess the only place us guys are still guaranteed some quality "alone time" is the bathroom on an airplane. Although, I hear the lavatories on most United flights now have attendants, too.
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