I'm not a huge fan of being wet, or being in water for that matter so I've learned to take quicker showers over the years- unless I have to wash my hair. My normal shower time of about 5-10 minutes, would be double that amount as I let the steamy hot water trickle down my scalp, removing all the excess product in my hair. Even if the maintenance from a much needed wash day makes me tired, at least I had a nice warm shower to look forward to.
On my last wash day, I had the shower head running for about 5 minutes when I noticed something strange; the usual steam never bellowed from the shower tub, to surround the bathroom in a sauna like atmosphere. There was no humidity, no heat...if I couldn't write my name on the glass mirror, it wasn't hot enough. I figured maybe it was taking a while to heat up...it happens. But no need to waste anymore water- its a resource we can take for granted. I stepped into the shower and my worst fears were realized- sharp daggers of cold water hit my back and I arched it forward like a cackling witch. There were two things in my life I swore I'd never do- watch "Keeping up with the Kardashians' ' and take a cold shower so I knew I had to fix this immediately. I braved through the icey droplets from the pressurized shower head to reach the pipe so I could end his horrid nightmare. But the hot water knob was turned all the way up and the cold water knob was where it usually was- barely touched to be turned on. The only thing I could think of was that the unthinkable happened in my privileged suburban New Jersey apartment- we had no hot water. Sometimes the boiler would overheat or explode or something and maintenance would be called even after hours to fix it overnight, for the disgruntled tenants not used to having to deal with cold water.
"The hell I'm staying in this," I thought. It was too cold, my body immediately was covered in goosebumps, I began to shiver and every fiber in my being felt...uncomfortable to say the least. I was about to turn off the pipe and accept my fate of having filthy, knotted, crusty hair over washing it under freezing cold water- but then I realized how privileged I normally am.
There are people who do not have the luxury of having heat, hot water or clean running water, even during the cold winter months. Some have to constantly boil their water so it could be lukewarm enough for it to not have an icy sting as they use it to wash their bodies. Others have what had happened to me that night, but all the time, and because of their lower socioeconomic class, the help they need takes days to come. My parents did not have access to hot water growing up, however since they grew up in a hot climate, cold showers were appreciated But this isn't the same in places where the temperatures can get below freezing. About 2 million Americans don't have access to running water, most being the almost invisible Native American population and those of lower socioeconomic class. And this problem isn't only limited to rural areas of the country- even in New York City, there are people subjected to poor living conditions in New York public housing. Why should those who are not in an economically privileged position have to suffer for those who can afford better living conditions? Having access to clean running water and heat is a necessity for human beings, and should not be determined by the positions of class.
It was pretty deep, but this ran through my mind as I went to turn off the shower of cold, clean running water simply because I was uncomfortable- I am privileged to receive hot water whenever I turn on the shower, but others, they would kill to have this basic human resource. So I sucked it up and stayed in the shower, icey water and all. When I was done, I was shivering, teeth chattering and not even a towel could hide the goosebumps that covered my body. But my hair was clean.
As for the millions of Americans who do not have this privilege, we must educate ourselves on their plight that is everyday life for them. The Closing the water gap report published by the USWaterAlliance talks about strategies to help those who need access to clean water, which begins at the grassroots; bringing the issue to light to help build funding for the communities who have trouble accessing this resource.
I'm not 110% opposed to cold showers after this- but many people don't even have the option of choosing.That's what I have to keep in mind whenever I'm comfortable in my usual sauna-eqse showers.
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