Oct 07

Pay to Pee?

peeSaturday night the bf and I went out for a date. Because the weather has been unseasonably warm we were able to take the dog with us and eat outside. I know there won’t be many more of these warm summer fall nights left, so we’re trying to make the most of them.

After a tasty dinner and a few brews bf needed to use the restroom. When he got back from the restroom he told me the bathroom had an attendant. Since bf knows my feelings about bathroom attendants (yes I know it’s a weird “issue” to have feelings about), this was his way of “warning me” not to go. I’ll be honest, I think bathroom attendants are kind of weird and I’d rather hold it then have someone listen to me go. Sorry if that’s an over-share. If you think that’s gross stop reading, because the rest of the post is going down the crapper…literally.

I think it’s really awkward to have someone hovering near the bathroom door waiting for me to do my business. I mean, I appreciate how fresh you keep the john smelling, and how clean the vanity is when I lean against it to reapply my lipstick in the mirror, but I’m not super enthused about you listening to me tinkle. Or worse, imagine you need to do a number 2!

Yes I know most of us try to avoid public restrooms for the later, but on the rare occurrence you need to do so in “public” you’re not trying to drop a deuce with an audience, right? And then, for the torture of making the attendant stand in said restroom with your dirty little secret you have to tip him/her. Embarrassing, weird, uncomfortable… Umm, Yes! And on top of all of “that”, I didn’t ask you to stand in here and listen to me go, so why should I have to pay you to hand me a towel?

The irony of all this to me, is this phenomena only seems to happen in nicer establishments. I guess if you can afford a fancy meal you can afford to tip the bathroom attendant? All that to say, if there is an attendant I give her a tip whether I’m freaked out or not, but I don’t like it! I paid all that money to the establishment for my meal and now I have to pay to pee? What’s next? Charge me for the toilet paper?

How do you feel about bathroom attendants? Do you mind “paying to pee?”

Somewhat related side note, my co-worker just bought a product called poo-pourri (see below). According to her you spray some in the toilet bowl before you “go” and the smell is trapped under the water. I’ve never tried it, but she swears by it.

Image: Tobyotter


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  1. Michelle

    Haha I’m with you. I don’t like it either. And that spray stuff is weird.

    1. KK

      It’s totally weird, but my co-workers swears by it. I told her the ultimate test is to leave it in the staff restroom and see how things turn out.

  2. Demaish @ Borrowed Cents

    As a guy I don’t mind since its just like meeting another guy there doing the same but if it’s a no. 2, I guess nobody would want someone standing there listening and then smiling at you when you step out…lol

    1. KK

      And smiling when you step out, gross, I’m shuddering as I type 😉

  3. Kurt @ Money Counselor

    Hey, everyone already knows your poop doesn’t smell good, so don’t worry so much! :-)

    1. KK

      I guess that’s a good way to look at it. Everybody’s shit stinks.

  4. Kasey @ Debt Perception

    I’ve only ever been one place with a bathroom attendant and I didn’t pay them, no cash, first time I’d ever heard of a bathroom attendant! So weird!

    While I took a bus trip up to a friends’ in Baltimore, I had to pay to use a bathroom at a gas station. You actually couldn’t open the door without sticking a quarter in the knob, first time I’d ever seen that. Kinda forced you to pay to pee. :)

    1. KK

      I think a lot of times they take people by surprise and then you’re in there without cash and feeling guilty (or maybe that’s just me). I’ve heard of paying to get into a bathroom in Europe, but the whole bathroom attendant phenomena is still strange to me.

  5. anna

    I have the same feelings about bathroom attendants – I always like to smile at establishment workers, but whenever I do with bathroom attendants it’s also with an apologetic look. That poo-pourri stuff is rad when you’re in group situations (like sharing a cabin or something)! It smells pretty and works!

    1. KK

      I told my co-worker to bring in the poo-pourri. It’s a little strange, but if it works, it sounds like a pretty great invention, esp. if you’re having a party or something like you mentioned.

  6. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    Okay, I am clearly not in a large enough city because even in the swankiest restaurant here there isn’t a bathroom attendant, and I think I am quite glad of that!

    1. KK

      I’d never experienced a bathroom attendant until I moved to NYC. The first time I saw one I was completely confused why that would be someone’s job (not judging, just confused).

  7. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

    Yea I would feel really awkward if it was #2 but don’t really care if it’s #1. I do get annoyed sometimes because I don’t always have small bills to tip…and I wonder for women? I guess you guys always carry your purse to the bathroom? But what if you didn’t? I do like having clean bathrooms though…when I read the title, I thought it was about public toilets where you pay to use it. I’m fine with that…since they’re probably cleaner and it’s sometimes hard to find clean bathrooms.

    1. KK

      A lot of times I don’t have my purse with me and then I just feel like a jerk. I mean should I plan to use the bathroom again before I leave so I can give a tip? Or go back to the bathroom just to leave a dollar? Strange either way. Oh the dilemmas

  8. Morgaine

    Paying to go to the bathroom (with or w/o an attendant) is VERY common place in Europe. I live in Canada and when I first went to Europe in my early 20s I was shocked to find that we had to pay to use any public bathroom, even in malls! When we went back on our honeymoon it seems that this has lightened up a bit but now they have weird outside stalls that you have to pay to get into, even weirder since they’re in the middle of streets! I hope this never becomes a trend in North America, like you, I don’t like anyone listen to me go one or two and especially to have to pay for them to do so, ewww! :S

    1. KK

      I’m fine with paying to use the restroom (like in Europe), hey everybody’s gotta make a buck, right? But at least give me a little privacy when I’m in there. In fact, I’d happily pay the attendant a couple bucks to leave me alone.

  9. Debt and the Girl

    I personally get a little uncomfortable when I see an attendant at the bathroom. I feel like I have to tip them for just standing there. I tend to just wash my hands and leave.

    1. KK

      Agreed, even if they aren’t really helping me I feel like I have to tip. I’m fine with tipping for good service, but I wasn’t requesting any service in the restroom (and that just sounded wrong, but you know what I mean ;-))

  10. Buck Inspire

    Hilarious post! I’m with you. I don’t like them there, but in a way they add class to the establishment. Similar to having an elevator man?

    1. KK

      Ah yes, elevator men, another thing I think is really strange. I guess some people like stuff like that, maybe I’m too much of a country bumpkin to appreciate bathroom attendants.

  11. Budget and the Beach

    It is so pointless and outdated. And now half the rooms have the auto towel dispenser thingy. It’s not always nice places though. I used to go to this shithole dingy club in Detroit and they had an attendant. I never tipped and always tried to grab my own towel. It’s just weird. I kind of feel that way about elevator button pusher people too. What are they called? I mean I can press my own damn button!

    1. KK

      Bathroom attendant in a dingy club. That’s interesting. I wonder what they were trying to “prove”. Seems to me certain establishments are trying to look “fancy” and that’s why they have them. Totally agree with you on the elevator men, weird and totally outdated!

  12. Mrs PoP @Planting Our Pennies

    I feel like it’s a very southern thing – even the airports in some of the old south states have bathroom attendants. I don’t mind it a whole lot, but I always try to carry change with me when I go through them.

    1. KK

      I guess it’s one thing when you sort of expect that and have some cash on you, but when it comes out of nowhere, it’s like, “oh crap, I don’t have my purse” and then I feel bad.

  13. Dear Debt

    I feel the same way! It’s so awkward! I actually had to pay for toilet paper in Retiro Park in Madrid! I was like, really? REALLY? Too much.

    1. KK

      Oh wow, that’s interesting, I was sort of joking, but didn’t realize that actually happens in some place. I wonder if people carry tissue in their bags to avoid having to pay. I probably would.

  14. Michelle

    Bathroom attendants at a club don’t bother. People have to make a living. A dollar tip after drinking all night is fine. BUT, in Europe it drives me absolutely freaking CRAZY to pay to get inside a bathroom. I am always doing the pee pee dance trying to find change in order to get into the bathroom so that I can do my business. I loathe this.

    1. KK

      At clubs attendants might make a little more sense to me, since people are drinking and peeing all night, and they want to keep things fresh (and orderly-no fights in the bathroom).

  15. DC @ Young Adult Money

    I think bathroom attendants are strange. The only way it would ever make sense is at some super expensive restaurant or insanely formal event at an insanely fancy place. Public restrooms are honestly one of my least favorite things in the entire world. I daily question why they are the way they are. Terrible design as far as stalls go, they smell like s***, you hear people make noises you can’t even make up….it’s ridiculous. I sometimes wonder how the hell we can invent some of the things we do but can’t make bathrooms smell decent…or even neutral! Okay rant over : )

    1. KK

      “you hear people make noises you can’t even make up” lol omg, yes! It’s like “Really? you couldn’t wait until you got home to do that?” I hate public restrooms with a passion. I’ll wait until I’m blue in the face to avoid using one.

  16. Clarrise @ Make Money Your Way

    I don’t mind about them anymore because almost all of our establishments here in our small city have bathroom attendants. So when I go to the bathroom I just smiled to them.

    1. KK

      I guess if it’s “normal” to you then it’s not a big deal. Here it’s not as common so when I see one I get really uncomfortable.

  17. pauline

    I don’t like to pay, especially if I am already having a drink in the place. In Paris they put free public toilets after charging for years because the cost of maintenance was lower than the cost of cleaning the streets where people would pee instead.

    1. KK

      That actually makes a lot of sense. If people are going to do their business on the street, they may as well put in some bathrooms to avoid that (and the public indecency as well).

  18. Mr Financial Debauchery

    I’ve never understood the bathroom attendant logic or business model. It just seems like a bad SNL sketch. If there was ever a guy in the bathroom with me when I had to go, I’d make sure to do a total blow out! Perhaps we’d high-five when I left.

    1. KK

      It’s totally a bad SNL sketch, I’m surprised they haven’t done one yet. It seems like the perfect awkward situation to make fun of.

  19. E.M.

    I completely agree with you. I don’t really even like going in there if someone else is already there. It is a little creepy. I don’t tend to go to places with attendants, but I do remember for a work event they had them at the venue (which was upscale/classy) and I just kind of ran out to avoid the awkwardness. I didn’t want to tip as they were just standing there, not doing much of anything.

    1. KK

      Agreed, I’m super relieved (no pun intended) when nobody is in the bathroom when I go in. I’d much prefer to wait in line for a one stall then to use a restroom with a bunch of people already in there, gross.

  20. Kali @CommonSenseMillennial

    I have actually heard of that spray before – but I’ve never known anyone to have bought it! I thought it was a sort of gag gift, but I guess it’s the real deal, haha. I’m with you, though – public restrooms are already places I don’t enjoy being, but it’s so much worse when you have an audience, regardless of what you’re doing in there!

    1. KK

      I’d never even heard of it, but since she told me about it, several people have mentioned it to me, which is sort of funny. She loves it and insists it’s worth the money.

  21. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    That must be one of the worst jobs on the planet. I’ve only ever seen restroom attendants in Las Vegas. The first time I ever saw one, it freaked me out. I’d never heard of such a thing. I don’t believe I’ve ever left a tip because I rarely carry cash, and I really don’t need help or want service in the bathroom. However, if they would hire someone to stand in the restroom at Walmart and keep it from smelling like ass, I’d pay for that. Especially since my daughter always has to go when we’re there!

    1. KK

      For real, it’s a pretty “shitty” job. Can’t remember the last time I was in a walmart bathroom, thankfully!

  22. Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt

    I feel really weird about toilet attendants too. I mean, I know it’s their job and any job is good of course. Some of the attendants in the UK (London mainly) have baskets of perfume and if you tip them you can get a spray of perfume of your choice. Good if you run out I guess or you have a sudden perspiration problem! But I feel awkward about parting with my money for them to hand me a towel and listen to me pee.

    1. KK

      yeah, there’s something strange about a stranger spraying you with cheap perfume (I’m assuming they’re cheap, maybe they’re not, but even if they’re not it’s still a pretty terrible job). But I guess you do what you have to do. If I had to be a bathroom attendant to my family would go hungry, I’d be there handing out towels.

  23. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    LOL, thanks for the giggle, KK. :-). Yeah, I agree, it’s just plain weird! Maybe next time you can pay them to stand outside while you finish your biz. :-)

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