Triad Magazine

A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.

The Porcelain Guardians

By Kasey Helms

Standing in the line for Hyde Park Café can be grueling, especially when nature is calling. Making my way through the waves of people all dressed in glitz and glamour and waving around toxic concoctions, my destination almost seemed unreachable. Finally I arrived, and began to wait again, apparently “nature” decided to make a few calls. I along with nameless victims danced in place with anticipation. At last it was my turn. As I resurfaced by the sinks, a shadow caught my eye; ignoring it, I went about my business. Suddenly there was soap in my hand, although I do not recall getting any. I washed my hands vigorously, and began a frantic search for paper towels, only to find some floating in front of me as if by magic they appeared. I turned to the source of this magic, only to find my shadow phantom from earlier; she was not a shadow after all. She introduced herself as Tammy, and for the past three months she has been a bathroom attendant at Hyde Park Café. Bathroom Attendants like Tammy are hired through an outside company like a valet service. Working only on tips, and late-night club hours (usually 9 p.m.-3 a.m.) attendants receive neither breaks, nor benefits. Tammy herself has another job, a full-time job, being a bathroom attendant is just extra money. She works as a caregiver to the elderly in the day, and as a caregiver to the young at night. “It’s just a job, but I like the company and conversation,” Tammy said. On an average night, she can make anywhere from $50-350 in tips, but she says the key to success is to build a clientele. “I’ve got regulars now, that don’t even come in to use the bathroom. They just come in to talk to me and ask about life, or need advice,” she says proudly. But what if a situation arises? “I’ve had to deal with some bad women before. One woman even tried to spit in my face! But I was calm and the situation was resolved,” adding later, “The lady came back in the next day and apologized.” Alliance Staffing, run by Alex Smith, is one company responsible for sending out bathroom attendants to the various establishments in need of service.

One call put through to him, and an entire club can be staffed with anything from security, bathroom attendants, and even drivers. James, a male bathroom attendant, says life is a bit easier in men’s bathrooms, “They mostly just pop in then back out again.” For about five years, James, has floated around to various establishments waiting with a paper towel and good ear. He too works off of tips only. “I enjoy the nightlife, and I consider myself a people person,” he smiles, “This is my full time job, and I love it.” The main requirement to be a bathroom attendant is that a person is 18 or older. Duties will vary, depending on the establishment, but mainly keeping the lavatory stocked with amenities as needed by the users. Although, some companies will pay hourly, plus tips, the attendant mainly works off gratuity.

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