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The Downside of the Uppity Restroom August 22, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.

I had the misfortune of having a bum stomach while at the mall this evening. That being the case, I naturally pursued what would be the most logical course of action for anyone in my position: I made my way to the mall’s very own “customer lounge”.

Those who frequent Philippine malls a lot (mostly those with the Ayala brand attached to them) know what I’m talking about. They’re practically restrooms on steroids: clean, always fully stocked with toilet paper and good quality soap, and well-attended. Anyone can make use of them, provided you know where they are in the mall and you pay the token ten pesos (that’s less than a quarter dollar, for those not familiar).

I’ve always thought that women would be more disposed to making use of it if need arose, but now I see that it has, er, a much broader appeal. Also, from an economic standpoint, it’s probably the best value for money in the entire mall. No, really! In fact, I can see the MasterCard television commercial for it now: “Roll of toilet paper 15 pesos. Liquid soap: 20 pesos. Personal bathroom attendant: Minimum wage. Value of a ten peso visit to a clean restroom, guaranteed stocked with soap and toilet paper, and maintained by a watchful attendant: Priceless.”

Ah, but there’s the rub. In all, there are maybe three attendants who keep watch over the restrooms; that is, one each for the men’s and women’s respectively plus a third to take care of the cash and disburse the “tickets”/receipts. Assuming the one I ended up utilizing is representative of similar “lounges”, it would seem that the 10 peso surcharge is enough to discourage most people from using the lounge too frequently, which means that at any given point in time, they have few patrons. Which means that those attendants have a lot of idle time on their hands. Which must also therefore mean, if my perception of human nature is at all accurate, that the attendants inevitably end up talking about those few patrons they do have.

Now I can’t help but wonder what they must say about the people they come across. Do they marvel at how one would not expect such people to have sensitive rear ends? Do they recount the strange gaits and faces that people must have as they pay their money and dash to the restroom? Do they talk about the fastest anyone’s been in and out of their area of responsibility in their experience as a lounge attendant? One has to admit that it must make for interesting conversation.

So I suppose in the end, it’s a wash. The mall generates a bit of revenue, the customer gets to use the most hygenic public restroom that money can buy, and the bathroom attendants get the occasional person to be the unwitting butt of their jokes. Embarassing? Perhaps. But even I can see the humor in that.



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