A Lesson in Life From the Men's Room

A guy named Alan taught me a lesson in life the other night. We were in the men’s room at the time. And before you get any weird ideas, Alan was the Men’s Room Attendant.

I didn’t think they had Men’s Room Attendants anymore. But this was one of those high-end Chicago steakhouses--- $60 cuts of meat, $50 pieces of fish, and $45 bottles of wine Trader Joe’s sells for $15. (Someone else was picking up the tab so we ordered freely!)

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"May I watch you do your business, sir?"

Restroom Attendants are such a 1920s thing. Back then, restaurant owners must’ve thought it added a touch of class to have a strange person hanging out in the bathroom while you did your business, handing you things you could just as easily get yourself. Or maybe 95 years ago people couldn’t figure out how to work soap.

I felt sorry for Alan. He deserved more than working in this small, dark space surrounded by toilets. I hoped there was a chance for Alan to move up to barback or busboy some day. In the meantime, I made sure to tip him. The guy before me refused to let Alan hand him anything, giving him an imaginary push-away with his shoulder. Then he stomped out without leaving a cent.

Tipping him was the least I could do. The very least. Because Alan did more than hand me a towel that was three inches from me and happily open the door as I left. He offered me more than Life Savers and Q-Tips and mouthwash displayed in a cute acrylic box. Alan gave me a cold slap in the face.

I’m always bitching about my life. I keep my day-to-day stress on a continuous feedback loop running in my head. It makes me clench my teeth and makes me drink too much. But, seriously, what have I got to bitch about? Most of my jobs have involved offices, some with windows, one that faced sunrise over Lake Michigan twenty stories up. At the very least, I’d have a desk with a chair. And no one was peeing or taking a poop nearby.

So next time I catch myself thinking: “boohoo, poor me, my life sucks…” Next time I let my stress jump so my blood pressure spikes, my cortisol levels rise so my sticky platelets clog my newly bypassed arteries… Next time I start feeling that coming on, I need to picture Alan in his stiff, white shirt and polyester vest standing in the corner of that men’s room for eight hours. Then I gotta stop being such a whiner…

Did you know last Saturday was "World Gratitude Day” Yeah, me neither... What’re you grateful for?

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