THE WORKING STIFF – By Darren Garnick
The Boston Herald
November 4, 2009
I love toilet paper – I really do. I’m grateful I didn’t grow up in the Soviet Union waiting in line for it. And I intimately know what it is like to wipe with alternatives, having used leaves during a winter camping trip — and once reluctantly re-appropriating the pages of a “Let’s Go” travel guide.
For the record, I was careful to only use the maps of countries that were hostile toward the United States.
You will be spared further details how the topography of these maps change dramatically during and after bathroom use. Bowel movements just don’t make good copy.
So I wonder what Charmin’s new team of bathroom bloggers will write about without alienating their audience. In case you missed it, tomorrow morning there are “auditions” to be one of five seasonal “Charmin Ambassadors” to work in the iconic toilet paper brand’s public Times Square restrooms.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, the high-profile bathroom attendants will get paid $10,000 for “engaging and entertaining the masses” who have been holding their bladders searching for a clean, hassle-free place to relieve themselves in Manhattan. The only job requirement: Applicants “should enjoy going to the bathroom so much – whether it be to catch up on reading or just enjoy some ‘me time’ – they never want to leave.”
Charmin spokesperson Marisa Abdoo says the Ambassadors will not perform any custodial duties and will be expected to share their experiences through blogs, social media sites and by producing “family-friendly” videos. She declined to say how much the people actually cleaning the toilets will be paid, vaguely stating those wages vary “based on position and level of experience.”
Let’s just say that Lysol won’t be the only scent in those restrooms. By creating two classes of bathroom attendants – one that wears rubber gloves and touches God-knows-what, and one that watches them and posts updates on Facebook – there will be the smell of resentment in the air.
The Advertising Age trade journal ironically points out that these toilet bloggers will be getting paid more than bloggers for the Huffington Post (who get zilcho).
“I realize you can’t spell ‘ambassador’ without an ‘a-s-s,’ but this is a sad step down,” writes columnist Robert Rosenthal. “Being appointed an ambassador used to be a position of enormous prestige for people like Joseph Kennedy and Jeane Kirkpatrick. Now the tour of duty follows in the esteemed footsteps of Mr. Whipple.”
Rosenthal is calling for the media to boycott tomorrow’s Charmin tryouts, demanding a “total brownout.”
Just how Charmin expects its new cheerleading squad to interact with the constipated crowd is unclear. Are they supposed to tap dance outside the stalls? Magic tricks with paper towels? Do improv comedy about disgraced U.S. Senator Larry Craig’s actions at the Minneapolis airport bathroom?
And will tomorrow’s tryouts of up to a thousand hopefuls be anything like those horrid American Idol audition shows?
Perky Candidate: “Hi, I’m Cathy with a “C,” as in Charmin! And your flushable wet wipes make my tushie feel clean and confident!”
Randy-like Judge: “Cathy, way to make the toilet paper your own. You belong in the stalls, baby!”
Simon-like Judge: “Dreadful. You should be scrubbing urinals on a cruise ship!”
The jury’s out on how the H1N1 scare might affect this publicity stunt’s desirability. Even if the Charmin bathrooms are clean as a hospital emergency room and offer all-you-can-eat prime rib, they’re still public restrooms. I wouldn’t take this job even if I were submerged David Blaine-style in a see-through vat of Purell.
As for Manhattan tourists, they’ll be able to use the special restrooms even on Thanksgiving Day. But if they have to go on Christmas, they’ll be blank-out-of-luck.
The Charmin Ambassadors have Dec. 25th off.
Darren Garnick’s “The Working Stiff” column runs every Wednesday in the Boston Herald. For more details about the Charmin Ambassador tryouts, visit the Stiff blog at: www.bostonherald.com/blogs/workingStiff/