November 9, 2013

If you think the NYT is inclined to explain the racial angle to all manner of stories...

... you should notice when it fails to do so, as here: "Era Fades for Helping Hand at the Washroom Sink."

The NYT readers did. One reader wrote:
I'm surprised that racism is not mentioned.... I have not seen many bathroom attendants, but I never saw a white man in the position and always felt that my tip was like a vote cast in favor of a miserable and humiliating caste system.
Ha. This is a reason not to tip?!

Another wrote:
In September I took my 14-year-old daughter to Manhattan and to our very special lunch in the City. More than the food or excitement of Balthazar's lively atmosphere, or the fantasy that she was in a Parisienne cafe, is her memory of the bathroom, and the bathroom attendant. She was astonished at the idea of a bathroom attendant even after I, her 70s disco clubbing worldly mom explained, even after our teachable moment about racism, economics, education, sexism, fine dining, NYC, etc. She thought it had to be the worst job ever -- cooped up in that tiny smelly space hoping someone would give you a dollar for a paper towel; how would a poor old lady have money to spend for a stranger's perfume? It looked like slavery to her, too. I have to agree; although I see the need for reliable sanitation throughout the workday it really is archaic and peculiar.
(I added the link to that last word.)

34 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Servants are working. Work is good for us.

So what is the matter with the so touchy New Puritans Elites now?

PB Reader said...

Shoe shines are largely gone, too.

The era of personal service is over.

Bob Boyd said...

I look forward to the day when advances in neuroscience will resolve the difficult issue of job satisfaction among bathroom attendants.

Oso Negro said...

What the New York Times readers fail to understand is simple - there is dignity in any honest work. Washroom attendant is honest work. It can be done well or done poorly, and someone who does it well can feel good about themselves because of it.

tim maguire said...

I'm glad the era of bathroom attendants is ending. They don't really perform a service and I don't like feeling guilty because I have to pee but don't have a buck in my pocket.

On a related note, bathroom attendant is not the worst job in the world, elevator operator at Bowlmor on University Avenue is. That man looks like he wants to kill himself every moment of the day.

The Crack Emcee said...

I like the idea of a "teachable moment" for racism, as I have to duck and dodge, or keep my mouth shut, in a constant effort to make whites feel comfortable. Take my word for it, this is one of those "you never stop learning" things, because it ain't called "peculiar" for nothing and as an example - if it was only limited to the South - you wouldn't be using words like "slavery" and "racism" in a discussion of New York City washrooms.

Now I like the idea of jobs disappearing specifically because whites would never do them - jobs which they've always narcissistically thought were worthy of being done for, and to, themselves - while others were/are deemed [place negative word here] for having always possessed the same attitude. Freaky.

What I don't like is how ignorant whites can be and how blacks have to carry the load.

Thanks, Ann,...

betamax3000 said...

Re: "
On a related note, bathroom attendant is not the worst job in the world..."

Bathroom Attendant Volunteer.

LarsPorsena said...

Good God! What next? No chauffeur, maid, doorman, butler!!! Egad!

betamax3000 said...

How Do You Know for Sure that the Bathroom Attendant is Actually an Employee of the Hotel or Restaurant, and Not Some Stranger Off the Streets Who Is Driven By Forces They Cannot Comprehend To Go To That Bathroom Every Day and Listen?

betamax3000 said...

Perhaps to This Compelled Stranger There is a Hidden Symphony in Each Bathroom, Full of Lulls and Tinkles and Cresendos, with Solos That Hint Vaguely of Clarinet?

betamax3000 said...

Spending the Day in Anticipation of the Lunch-Time Tuba Player.

betamax3000 said...

The Opening to Also Sprach Zarathustra, Performed By the Men's Bathroom Symphony.

Concurrently, the Women's Restroom Philharmonic is Playing Selections From Swan Lake.

Shouting Thomas said...

@Crack,

What a load of bullshit. You don't "have" to do anything.

As the world's leading authority on cults, you might take a look at how you've collapsed completely into the Cult of Racism.

You've devoted your life recently to scapegoating whites. When you devise your comeback, remember that I don't give a fuck about the white guilt thing. I don't owe you a fucking thing.

EDH said...

This hilarious Monty Python clip neatly encapsulates Althouse's last two posts!

EDH said...

As if the remote control couldn't be set-up to shut-off the TV directly without electrocuting the Untouchable.

amielalune said...

Balthazar's would be interested to know that their bathrooms are "smelly."

Michael said...

White attendants in the men's room at the Waldorf+Astoria. Black attendant at the 21 Club. I would guess the black guy clears a hundred grand a year with little shared with the govt. maybe a lot more. Very generous people in this country. Nice man. Been there for years.

Crack. A joke, right? Blacks carrying the "load." Tote dat barge dude.

betamax3000 said...

No One Would Suspect the Bathroom Attendant to Be an Escaped Convict. Sanctuary of Sorts.

betamax3000 said...

Perhaps the Chef Comes in to Evaluate the Final Outcome of His Work. I Am Using Too Much Curry, I Believe.

hombre said...

Great stuff. Let's fire 'em all! Except the white ones, if any.

Ambrose said...

The Times commentariat do not, of course, want dirty bathrooms. What they want is to not have to actually see or interact with the person who will tidy up after them. That makes them feel a lot better about themselves.

Rusty said...

Was someone forcing them to be bathroom attendants?

cubanbob said...

Welcome back Crack. ST, a little too harsh?

Back in the day when I was clubbing in a fancy joint I never considered the attendant thing to be a matter of race. As shitfaced as I was all I noticed is some poor guy trying to make a living. I always made it a point to tip him the price of a drink at that club. I figured he would need one after closing time. Crack for what it's worth the first job my old man did I this country was cleaning the toilets at the store he worked at. He had a wife and two small kids to feed so he did what he had to do. No different than the bathroom attendant.

The Crack Emcee said...

Now I like how I can write "how ignorant whites can be" and ST still assumes he understands.

cubanbob, there is a difference, and it's that you're not black American. Like American indians, our history and circumstance are unique, the grievances are real, and anyone attempting to take THAT away from us, too, might as well step-the-fuck-off because that ain't going nowhere either.

I tried the post-racial route here and all it got me was insulted daily as whites spoke openly - excuse me if I'll earn it now.

Y'know, this is how gangs get started,...

Tank said...

1. I doubt the people who have those jobs wish to lose them. What percentage of them can make more money elsewhere. Ya know, shoveling shit itself is an honest job and something to be proud of. More so than the 47% or so on the dole in the US every day. That's bad for the individual and bad for society.

2. Putting aside the money and the jobs, I don't appreciate getting help in the Mens room. I can actually handle all of the duties myself.

3. I am thankful to have Crack and his brothers around to carry the load. Whew, we are lucky.

William said...

Crack can't understand the pain and terror of living as a Watusi in a Bantu land. How would it feel to see your neighbors chop your family to death with garden instruments and then come running after you? Tribalism s the sincerest form of racism, and Crack has never experienced it. He has, however, experienced a certain amount of discrimination and hard times. It is his conceit that these hard times overwhelm the perks and comforts of his American life. It's a harmless fantasy, and he's welcome to indulge it.

Oso Negro said...

Dear Crack,

As a white person, it is refreshing to hear a black person admit that a perpetual sense of grievance is central to the black experience. As a white person, there are choices to be made. You can either go the guilt and appeasement route, as so frequently done by progressives, or the "quit your whining" route, as so frequently done by others. Whichever way you choose as a white American, blacks STILL feel aggrieved! Do you expect that black Americans will ever get over it? Sadly, I fear that you won't.

Shouting Thomas said...

Y'know, this is how gangs get started,...

Yes, you're quite right, Crack. Black men are notorious for belonging to and fighting in gangs.

You'd make a good gang member. You seem determined to arrive at that point.

Jake said...

I'm not a worldly 70s disco mom, but I've seen white bathroom attendants. I never felt sorry for them, but I have felt compelled to make awkward conversation while washing my hands.

n.n said...

While the bathroom attendant's job may be unsatisfying, it's the janitor's jobs to clean the mess left behind. Neither job is inherently degrading. Neither job is inherently prejudiced. In fact, people that make these claims are degrading men and women who have performed this service. I do not envy men and women who are encumbered with such a distorted, and, yes, bigoted (sanctimonious hypocrisy), perspective of reality.

Rusty said...

Crak has succumed to the cult of blackism.

cubanbob said...

@Crack I'm not sure why you seem to have such a hostile attitude towards my previous remark. You are right. I'm not a Black American nor am I disparaging the uniqueness of Black American history or grievances or any other groups historical grievances or history. All I said was my dad's first job in this country was cleaning a toilet because that is what he had to do to feed his family. No different than the toilet attendant. Self reliant people do what must given the circumstances they are in to survive.
All honest work is noble. Why some groups are more prevelant than others in some occupations I don't know. I'm not a sociologist. I do know that there are a lot of hard and nasty jobs out there, jobs I'm glad I don't have to do to get by. I suppose that if given a choice between shoveling pig or chicken manure in the summer heat on a farm or being a bathroom attendant I would prefer being an attendant. Your choice might be different.

Anglelyne said...

CE: cubanbob, there is a difference, and it's that you're not black American. Like American indians, our history and circumstance are unique, the grievances are real,...

No, there's nothing unique about being shat upon, enslaved, conquered, generally ill-used and regarded as inferior serf-class barbarians by another group that happens to have the superior-technological and more advanced civilizational whip-hand for the nonce. The exceptionally luckless get genocided and wiped from history. It's what people do. And after they do it's nothin' but vae victus and booyah for our side from the winners.

What is unique about the situation of black Americans and American Indians is that significant numbers of the descendents of the people who enslaved, conquered, and kicked them around actually think some sort of injustice was committed, and have enacted policies of redress.

...and anyone attempting to take THAT away from us, too, might as well step-the-fuck-off because that ain't going nowhere either.

Does that statement even mean anything? So what I said ain't going nowhere and I'll have to step-the-fuck-off? Whatever, Crack. I search my heart again and the "white guilt", in whatever form, just ain't there.

Lord Ben said...

I've had some pretty shitty jobs (shoveling out cow pens, literally quite shitty) and never felt much demeaned by them. There was a certain sense of satisfaction in seeing a clean bed of straw on a freshly scrubbed stall.

As I look out my living room window this afternoon there is a pile of heavy machinery at the farm next door emptying out the giant lagoon of manure. A mile of tubing, pumps, several hundred tons of crap. I'll go run over and tell them that upscale hotel bathroom attendants aren't white enough. Chances are they'd prefer handing out moist towelettes for a living.