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Front Page » March 6, 2003 » Opinion » A Forecast for Unpredictable Showers
Published 4,597 days ago

A Forecast for Unpredictable Showers

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Staff writer

Most people say that when they travel the thing they miss the most is sleeping in their own bed.

But that's not true for me. For many years I journeyed all over North America with first, a consulting firm I worked for and then, with my own business. I have tried all kinds of motels and hotels, even some college dorms and bed and breakfasts in various spots scattered all over the northern hemisphere. But it took my first real trip in a couple of years last week to remind me of what is really important when I'm on the road; a good, working, usable shower.

Personally I like a good strong hot shower, with an enclosure that is easy to get in and out of, with a drain that sucks down the water quicker than the spigot can supply it. But over my years of taking literally hundreds of showers in dozens of locations I have discovered there is no other accommodation in lodging that has more personality than a motel rooms shower. In fact the idiosyncracies of individual showers, actually belie their specific personalities. After much study I have been able to discern five different types.

First there is the dribbler. That is my most hated type. You turn on the water and it comes out the bath tub spigot like the Red Sea rushing in after Moses was done parting the water, but when you flip the riser valve the fluid comes out in Chinese water torture fashion. I always get these kinds of showers in places like Las Vegas of Phoenix, where I have been profusely sweating all day and am too dead tired to complain. So consequently I take a five hour shower just to feel clean.

The next type is the free spirit shower head. When the water to that type of device is activated it sprays everywhere but where you want it to go no matter how the head is adjusted. This generally occurs in places where the drinking water is so hard you have to chew it to get it down. Once, when I encountered one of these stubborn devices, I even tried to take the shower head off myself, as I would at home, to clean out all the gunk. As I applied pressure to unscrew the head, the riser pipe broke just inside the wall, which resulted in housekeeping bringing me a mop to clean up my own mess, and the front desk charging me for "vandalizing and damaging bathroom fixtures." That's exactly how the charge was noted on my bill the next day when I paid it. \

I have never stayed in that chain of lodges since.

Then there is the pressure washer. When turned on the water from this shower head will either knock you down or put a hole through you, the wall behind you and the television sitting on the credenza in the other room. No one can possibly get clean in this kind of shower, that is unless they are a masochist that enjoys the pain of having their skin blasted off by 10,000 psi.

Next is the intermittent shower head. This particular device is extremely neurotic. It will dribble one time you turn it on and the next it will peel you like a banana. But it's most endearing quality is the way it changes water temperature, particularly right when it is the most inconvenient for you. Typically that happens just when you get to the point where you have made your hair wet, have rubbed in the shampoo and are ready to rise the foam out. It then decides it's time to rain down water that is in the -30 degree range upon your previously warm and comfortable noggin. But wait, there is more. Even more deviously, it continues in that fashion until you have stopped screaming, mostly because your vocal cords have frozen to the side of your esophagus, and have nearly completed the rinse job. Then it blasts you with extreme prejudice using 212 degree water which then causes your skull to crack from the temperature change.

Finally we have the fifth type. This shower I call the "come apart." While it generally has proper flow and temperature, every time you use it, something else falls apart. One time the strainer in the head may fly out beaning you in the most sensitive spot imaginable. Next time, at least one control knob comes off and you find it is stripped so you can't control the flow. This usually is discovered after you have turned on the hot water and want to add a little cold so that you are not scalded to death. Then as you realize your plight, you find the other knob that you quickly grasp to turn off the hot H2O flowing from the shower head, is stripped in the off direction.

All these shower types are like multiple monsters from one of those old '50s horror movies. They come and go and you never know where they will show up. They can occur in a $500 a night room where the towels hanging on the rack are so thick you'd thin they were blankets or in a $15.95 a night flea bag lodge where the towels are memories of yesteryear.

Yes, when traveling and staying in motels or hotels, you can take your own pillows and bring the water that you like to drink to your room. But the one thing you can't do is guarantee that the shower you will be taking that night will resemble in any way the experience you enjoy at home.

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March 6, 2003
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