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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 25, 2014

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Readers Blog: Open Heart Blog

Dirty Job

4723-mensroom2

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        I met a guy named Alan last 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. It’s such a 1920s thing. Back then I guess restaurant owners thought it added a touch of class to have a guy hanging out in the bathroom while you did “your business,” getting you stuff 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 a bathroom, hanging around toilets and urinals. I hope there’s room for him to move up to barback or busboy. In the meantime, I made sure to tip him. The guy before me refused to let Alan hand him anything, giving him the imaginary push-away with his shoulder, then stomped out without leaving anything.

        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 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 dayjob. I keep my job stress on a continuous feedback loop running in my head. It makes me clench my teeth and makes me drink too much. But what have I got to bitch about? I have an office with a chair and no one’s peeing or taking a poop three feet away from me.

        So next time I catch myself thinking “this job sucks” about what I do all day. 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 again--- The next time I start feeling that coming on, I need to picture Alan in his stiff, white shirt and red vest standing in the corner of a men’s room for eight hours.

        Then I’ve got to just shut the heck up.

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