I am curious how others on Chowhound feel about being confronted by a bathroom attendant in a nice restaurant handing you a towel (with the obvious expectation of a tip).
Personally I find it very irritating for several reasons. First, I know I may be unusual but I do not always take my purse into the bathroom. While I do not like being coerced into tipping an attendant for doing something I would much rather do myself (such as getting a towel) I also do not like not giving the attendant anything. Therefore it becomes an awkward situation for me. (Though I usually compensate by returning to the bathroom later so I can tip).
Second I just find it so unnecessary. I suppose I can understand that in a 5 star restaurant some may expect the continual pampering. However, I have experienced the unexpected bathroom attendants in nice, but definitely not 5 star establishments. I just don't see any reason for it unless the restaurant has no other place to put an employee.
Third, it is becoming more of a special treat for many of us who love to eat out but cannot afford to because of the economy. At least for myself, I would be less likely to return to a restaurant knowing I would have to tip an attendant in the bathroom. (I know- are a few bucks really worth crossing off a good restaurant off my list? Probably not. But it is a huge turn-off.)
Just as a side note, the one time I did feel the opposite was at a drag-queen restaurant in manhattan a few years ago- there was a drag queen bathroom attendant in the ladies room! :} (That was worth a big tip! :} )