I was once in a fantastic restaurant in Miami. There was a live blues band jamming on a stage in the center of the room, the ribs were falling off the bone, and the craft beer flowed from a seemingly never-ending stream.
As is common when beer flows from a never-ending stream, mid-way through the night, I felt the need to go to the men’s room. It was a small restroom — two toilets, a urinal, and a sink. Nothing too fancy. There were some flyers for local bands on the wall. Just your standard, dive-bar restroom.
I initially thought I was in the room alone, but when I finished my business at the urinal, I was surprised to find a man standing in front of the sink. He was middle-aged and lean. His face was covered in stubble, his hair was matted, and the hooded sweatshirt he wore could have used a wash. I noticed that the paper towel dispenser next to him was empty, and that he was clutching, in his unwashed hands, a large amount of paper towels.
I tried to side step him to use the sink behind him, but, without making eye contact, he leaned to block my path. We did this dance a few times, then I asked, “Can I, um, use the sink?”
“You’re supposed to tip the bathroom attendant,” he said, still not making eye contact.
Unsure what else to do, knowing I needed to wash my hands before returning to my ribs, I fished a dollar out of my wallet and handed it to him. He then kindly stepped aside so I could reach the sink. After I washed my hands, he waited for me to hold them out for him, then he dried them for me. The encounter ended with him brushing off my shoulders with his hands, giving me a pepper mint from the pocket of his sweatshirt, and bidding me to “have a wonderful evening.”
When I asked my waiter about the gentlemen, he replied, “Only the classiest places have restroom attendants.”