Does Anyone Actually Like Having a Washroom Attendant?

It's a serious question.  I hate walking into a bathroom and seeing an attendant.  Do I really want someone hovering over me when I am doing my business or washing my hands?  In a world where I am happy to pump my own gas, do I need someone squirting soap on my hands and handing me a towel?  All of which is transparently a bid to guilt me into tipping them for a service I never wanted -- in fact, a service that is a big negative for me.  I find myself actively avoiding restaurants I know to have attendants in the bathrooms.

Perhaps being an introvert I have stronger feelings on this, but if other people share these same feelings, even if less strongly, why the hell are there bathroom attendants in the first place?  Are they make-work jobs for some out-of-luck relative of the restaurant owner?  Or maybe for the local mafia protection racket?


  1. roxpublius:

    Don't consider myself am introvert, and still 100% agree. I never tip these folks. Maybe that's obnoxious, but I'd rather they weren't there, so it seems unreasonable to encourage it. Same principle applies to the guys flagging cabs outside the hotel.

  2. W Wolf:

    Absolutely not. It's annoying to see bellhops reach for my small bags while I'm traveling, but at least it's reasonable to anticipate travelers needing the help. No one (who doesn't already have an aide) needs any help in the bathroom.

  3. DaveK:

    But it's so... so... European!

    Next they'll be setting up a little desk so they can take your money before you can get in. The liberals will think it's simply adorable!

  4. mesocyclone:

    I have no use for them. I am guessing they are part of some long forgotten social rite. Perhaps the upper crust had bathroom attendants for some good reason - like they would clean things the moment a person walked out. Then, as is the nature of social hierarchies, it became important for the social climbers to expect them in their rest rooms, as a status symbol.

  5. mikehaseler:

    There are two types of people - those who like to use other people and those that don't. Largely this matches the same groups who like to do things themselves and those who like to get others to do it for them.

    Sceptics are by nature, people who trust their own judgement and ability to read the data as much or more than others. That makes us people who prefer to do things ourselves rather than using other people to serve us.

    So, if you could imagine a conference with climate sceptics and alarmists - and identical toilets for each group - one with an attendant and one without - it is almost certain the alarmists would use the toilet with the attendant and the sceptics would use the one without.

    Likewise - if you had someone just mention in passing that speakers tended to favour people on the right (or left - it doesn't matter) side of the hall - then you'd find a very large number of alarmists would adapt their behaviour to match the "consensus" whereas you'd find almost no change amongst sceptics. That is because alarmists tend to be cogs in the social machinery - their views are not their own but those of other people that filter through to them. They (don't process the data themselves instead they absorb the data from others and/or work in consensus building collaborative teams.

    So, when an alarmist goes into the toilet with the attendant - what they see - no matter how briefly their attendance is another member of their "team". Whereas a sceptic just seems someone getting in their way of having a piss.

  6. CT_Yankee:

    I attend an annual event that always has attendants, and it always feels weird that someone is trying to pay attention to what I do, and annoying that a tip is desired. This is similar to seeing that someone has the time to beg for hours, and yet does not put the same level of effort into getting a job. Intentionally creating awkward circumstances is not elite, a bit of privacy would be more fitting.

  7. Chish:

    I never experienced this until I was in Antigua. The hotel lounge had them and they hovered over you while you were attempting
    to wash your hands and offering you a towel, a spritz of cologne, brush your jacket, you get the picture. While I don't consider myself an introvert, the bathroom experience to me is strictly a solo performance scenario.

  8. JW:

    Bathroom attendants are an anachronism and one I would rather do without. What value do they add to my pissing? And what kind of person would want to do this for a living?

    What I'd rather see is an end to replacing towels with blowers. And stop with the trick faucets, that you have to know the secret hand wave to make work! Give me my paper towels back!

  9. Arthur S. Graham:

    I remember my Grandfather explaining to me that these were people just like the servants at home, and were to be treated with the same respect as our home staff.
    Those days are way in the rearview mirror, and so should be the bathroom attendants. However, when you encounter them, remember that they are doing a job, and that they deserve a modicum of respect for that. A "thank you" and a dollar mean more for him than they do for me, and I will remember to avoid that establishment in the future.

  10. BobSykes:

    They used to be a sign of a first class hotel, like elevator operators in automatic elevators. Nowadays all you get is a mint on the pillow.

  11. CapitalistRoader:

    Are they make-work jobs for some out-of-luck relative of the restaurant owner? Or maybe for the local mafia protection racket?

    One of these. Restroom attendants were big in the former Warsaw Pact countries 20 or 25 years ago. I bet they were holdovers from the communist era which was similar to a mafia protection racket.

  12. Onlooker from Troy:

    It's really amazing that this is still in existence today. And I totally agree with Warren, though I think I've only experienced it one time (I don't get to the ritzy places).

    It really has to be one of the least dignified things that one can do for a living. Standing around in a bathroom for hours, hovering over people hoping for a tip. I mean really, it's worse than cleaning the bathroom. At least that's real work.

  13. Harvey Morrell:

    Washroom attendants always remind me of life behind the iron curtain, which is where I first encountered them, selling toilet paper by the sheet.

  14. tmitsss:

    My theory it that the attendant's real job is to keep a busy bathroom clean. The rest of it is to get paid by soliciting tips. The premises owner outsources the pay of his cleaning staff.

  15. Mr. Generic:

    I've only seen bathroom attendants in one type of establishment. And their job was to both keep an eye on the patrons and staff using the bathrooms and to offer a spritz of cologne or a breath mint to the patrons. Tipping these guys wasn't a problem as all the patrons definitely had singles on them.

  16. SC:

    I love having attendants in large, frequently used restrooms at concert venues or festivals. I'm happy to give them $1 a visit in exchange for a clean, working bathroom with TP, soap, and paper towels stocked up even after a couple thousand people have used that bathroom during the day. Those people are usually busy mopping / cleaning / restocking, not putting soap on my hands.

    For hotels, restaurants, or other locations where someone cleaning once every 2 hours would keep the bathroom in perfectly good shape, I have no use for them.

  17. slocum:

    No. And I feel the same way about porters and daily maid service in hotels (one of the reasons we avoid hotels and rent a condo or house when vacationing whenever we can). Also, I'm ready for order and pay by app in restaurants any time now -- most of what the waitstaff do is just dumb. Why am I sitting here waiting for somebody waiting to come by and take my order by dictation like a secretary from Mad Men? And why will I wait again to order another drink? And then again to pay the bill? And pay 20% extra for all that unnecessary 'service'?

  18. Swami Cat:

    Well there goes my new entrepreneurial idea. I was going to get funding for über bathroom. It would contract with anyone who owns a suit and likes watching people do their business to show up at random bathrooms for a smart phone electronic tip.

    Seemed like a good idea....

  19. Adriana:

    I don't like being approached by salesmen in a store and I really don't like to pee in earshot of a bathroom attendant.

  20. Robert:

    It could be worse. While I was living in China, the bathroom attendants at clubs would try and rub your shoulders...while you were still at the urinal.

  21. FelineCannonball:

    Look it up. Tend to be contracts/sub-contracts that work completely on tips. They keep the bathroom stocked and clean at no cost to the owner. Take the annoyance up with the owner.

    This the market at work. Expanding minimum wage law to include tipped workers might eliminate them, but that would be big gubment reglation.

  22. Incunabulum:

    They're there to provide a faux sense of luxury - after all you have a servant in the bathroom. I too find them annoying, they simply don't provide enough *value* to the 'restroom experience' for me.

  23. Matthew Slyfield:

    To many they provide negative value to the 'restroom experience'.

  24. mx:

    So you're saying those crazy socialists in Europe use a free-market monetary system to keep public toilets clean? That would be crazy talk.

  25. Russ R.:

    They probably also serve a second function of keeping homeless folks out of the establishment's washrooms.

    You're probably less irritated by a washroom attendant than by a homeless guy bathing in the sink.

  26. bloke in france:

    Maybe a drug deterrence measure?

  27. PA32R:

    What a pompous, self-righteous tool you are. It's hard to believe that you're not just trolling, that's seemingly the only possible reason for such an epically asinine comment.

  28. mikehaseler:

    I take it you don't want to agree - but are unable either to find or construct a rational response?

  29. PA32R:

    How could a rational response be constructed to a series of egotistical claims with zero supporting evidence? Your post is, cut to the essence, "I claim to think for myself and claim that people with whom I disagree do not." You supply nothing in the way of support for the claim. And you ask for a rational response to such a fact and data free claim? Please...

  30. Ann_In_Illinois:

    I used to live in Hong Kong (in the 1990s), and heard an interesting story about the first free public toilets in HK in, IIRC, the 1970s or so. People there were so shocked at the idea that no one was charging for the use of the toilets that some people started camping out in them all day, so that anyone who wanted to use them had to first pay the person in there to leave temporarily.

    There's an entrepreneur born every minute.

  31. mikehaseler:

    LOL - the lady doth protest too much - clearly the analysis was too close to the truth!

  32. PA32R:

    Speaking of "find or construct a rational response." Pot, kettle, black or, as I believe that the psychologists would call it, projection.

  33. mikehaseler:


  34. Jimmy Hoffa:

    i will say this: Asking Putin to pimp a woman for him was a ballsey move on Sterling's part. What he lacks in intelligence and common sense, he partially makes up for in pure ballsey foolishness.