Just Letting Off Steam

Right now on these pages, there are many liberal ideas being dissected, diagnosed, debated, defined and destroyed. This is good. This is necessary. My grandson’s future depends on it. But I’d like to digress for just a moment’s rant on a topic that really burns me up.

Some of the finest showers in the truck stop world are to be found in Indiana, at the Fort Wayne Travel Plaza (intersection of US 30 and I-69, please stop in for some good eats too). The architect of these wonders of hygiene even thought to design the shower so that the water temperature can be adjusted without having to stand under the shower head, which means that you walk into a deliciously hot blast of water from the very start.

This was accomplished by building the shower on the design of the letter “S.” You walk in at the bottom of the letter and the water controls are on the wall of the southeast curve, see? The actual shower head is at the northwest curve. No need for curtains to keep the cold air out .. no need for a sliding glass door either, as the cold air never makes it around the curve. Just adjust the water temperature to your comfort before ever setting foot in the shower, and life is good. In a job which doesn’t afford a daily opportunity to bathe, this humble innovation made me as happy as if I had good sense.

I don’t know who designed it, but that person deserves to live in comfort without any further knowledge of life’s worries and hardships. And if that genius is no longer with us, I hope he has a nice headstone celebrating this singular accomplishment, because he can’t be the same person who designed the plumbing system which connects water temperature to the flushing of toilets in the same vicinity.

The first sign of trouble is a barely perceptible decrease in the water pressure, after which all of the cold water evidently is evacuated to assist with the toilet flush, leaving the hapless victim in the shower on the receiving end of a good scalding. As best I could tell, someone must have heard me yelp, because it wasn’t long before another sadist got in on the act. I would have ceased with the shower right then except I was already lathered up like a poodle at the Hot Diggity Dog Wash and Boutique. Reduced to performing an impromptu version of the Hokey Pokey, I experimented with first one foot, then the next … then a knee cap, and so on until I was convinced it was safe to resume.

That’s when a whole busload of flushers arrived at the truck stop. At first, I judged that a group of them flushed simultaneously. But the results were not much different than a single flush, since a single flush removes all the cold water in any event. And so that attempt was a wash. So they began to organize. One after the other, with only the slightest pause between scaldings. This is called a Royal Flush, and will fricassee your vital statistics 13 ways to Sunday.

And this was no haphazard effort either. No sir, this was nothing short of a full-on convention! There were ladies and gentlemen’s delegations. One would perform a medley of synchronized flushing, which would be answered by the delegation down the hall. This is called the [Redacted] flush, so called because the [Deleted] cold water was [Redacted] away from my part of the [Expletive] building and sent like an [Expletive Adjusted] out of the [Rectified] recesses of the [Expurgated, Bowdlerized and Overhauled] (sounds like a law firm) building. I don’t know what these people had eaten, but they all registered their votes with relentless efficiency whilst I was just down the hall doing the Mexican Hat Dance with the agility of a cow on a pogo stick. It was the worst nice shower I’ve ever had.

I thought to complain about it. I had plenty of time to think of what I would say while waiting for the flushing to stop, after all. But I knew in advance what the answer would be.Yes, they would be sorry. And yes, renovations are scheduled for this year, during which time all the showers will be closed, and after which time the perfect design of the showers will give way to the telephone booth design found at most truck stops. And someone will complain about those too. After all, some people are never satisfied and would complain even if you hung them with a new rope. So I made the best of the situation, ate a hot breakfast in the restaurant afterward, and here I am! But I’d sure like to know what causes this phenomenon …. and which bus tires to slash.

  1. Jojo

    Sorry for your experience but you are a genius story teller.

  2. PJS

    Dave, I was visiting friends in England last fall.  They had the S shower in the bathroom I used.  It was fantastic!  Mr. S and I are hoping to tear our house down and rebuild (remodeling would be too painful, as MANY shortcuts were taken when it was originally built), and I really like that shower design.  And we’ll remember the plumbing.

  3. John Murdoch

    The showers were designed by a structural engineer. The plumbing (and in particular, the sizing of the cold water feed piping) was done by the mechanical engineer. Unless the scheduled renovation is going to go all the way down to the plumbing (which is to say, “renovation” and “demolition” being interpreted as synonyms), I’d find a different shower to look forward to.

    But I appreciate your description!

  4. Illiniguy

    Your story is the perfect allegory of all of the simple pleasures which we soon learn to disdain, unless every once in awhile the ideal shower is interrupted by the occasional flush.

  5. wilber forge

    The “S” design, if understood correctly, has been used in high end designer homes for some time.

    The real question might be, did you perhaps announce your entrance into said enjoyment of a shower ? Did the communal flush come with an audible snicker in the background ? Could lead to paranoia there.

  6. Dave Carter
    wilber forge: … the communal flush come with an audible snicker in the background ? Could lead to paranoia there. · 4 minutes ago

    I couldn’t hear over my own profanity.  

  7. Stu In Tokyo

    I feel your pain Dave, I once had the unfortunate chance to live in an apartment that had a similar problem, when the neighbour next door flushed their toilet, we got scalded in the shower. It got to the point that I learned her daily routine so I knew when she went to work, when she got home and what time she went to bed. If she was in the apartment I would not take a shower, but sometimes she still got me, if she got up to use the bathroom after she had gone to bed, for example.

    I have a trades background, just about any job building a house I’ve done and many others. What really bugs me about this is the reason the flush and the scald go together, someone saved some money on some pipe and a valve. The pipe run to the shower and to the toilet should be separate, which means you have to run some extra pipe and or a pressure valve that does not allow the pressure in the shower line to drop because of a flush. 


  8. Stu In Tokyo

    …The problem is that someone decided to save a few buck on pipe and a few hours labour. When we had our 7 floor building built here in Tokyo in 2001, I went over all kinds of stuff like that with the architect, I can and do read blueprints. At first he was reluctant to let me in on the process, but I soon turned him around, mainly by pointing out that it was my wife and I that are on the hook for the next 30 years with a mortgage and that he should do what we want, or I’ll find someone who will. Then when the building was being built, I checked many things and caught some bad errors a few times, contractors that had bid for say six electrical outlets in a bedroom, but when I checked the work they had only put in three, saving themselves some money on the bid they made, yes that contractor was removed from the job.

    I will bet that your scalding shower is due to this kind of problem, someone was either ignorant of the problem, or they were saving money.

  9. Dave Carter

    Stu, that’s as good an explanation as I’ve ever seen.  Thank you.  But I still think a sadistic streak is at work here…

  10. The Mugwump

    C’mon, Dave, we used to do the flush-en-masse in the college dorm for fun.  Or at least the conservatives did it for fun.  You might convince me today that the future liberals did it out of malice.  But I was too dumb at the time to see the trends.    

  11. Cunctator

    Well, I live in a country where you can go some places and see “C” for chaud on one tap, and “C” for cold on the other.

  12. The Mugwump
    Erik Larsen: Well, I live in a country where you can go some places and see “C” for chaud on one tap, and “C” for cold on the other. · 3 minutes ago

    Well?  In a socialist nation hot and cold must be equal lest someone be offended.  

  13. Robert E. Lee

    The same plumber worked on the barracks I occupied in Korea.  I learned to dance in that shower.  Since I lived on the first floor I also had the delightful experience of knowing when the plumbing was backed up.

    My home was as cheaply built as possible but the plumbing was one item the didn’t skimp on I’m happy to say.

    Don’t knock liberals too much,  it was liberals who founded this country.  Conservatives were called Tories then.

  14. Eeyore

    I’ll throw in my useless 2 cents. (Wait…*pat*…*pat*…I don’t have 2 cents)

    I’ll say it anyway. In a lot of places, they got these here regalations that say “old folks burn themselves in showers” so they dictate what they call “anti-scald” regulators. And they are meant to prevent exactly what is happening to our beloved local steamed crawdad. They have maximum temperature settings (which work various ways). Some places even mandate them in commercial work.

    One of the problems is they’re a bit high zoot, so I don’t know of FWTP will spring for the extra. But it would seem that if they would, they might even be able to keep the stalls as is and keep the “Dave Carter Said Too Many Cuss Words Today” jar from have to be fed so many dollar bills.

  15. Nanda Panjandrum

    Poor Dave!  Adapted home showers work this way, too (for the reason Stu cites).  Anti-scald mixing valve my everlasting foot…I empathize…

  16. Foxfier

    Same genius that used lovely,tiny copper piping for the sink in our house…and ran it under the house, below any insulation.  (Thank goodness, they did NOT get to put the shower in.)  I seriously expect to see ice chunks about now.

    Townhouse  before managed to make it so that the bathroom where you could hit the water heater with a bar of soap somehow had a minute plus delay for hot water to reach it, while the master bedroom on the far side of the house had instant hot water.  (All I can guess is that they ran it down stairs, under the kitchen sink, then up the far wall…..)

    Gorgeous building, though.

  17. Pseudodionysius

     This is called a Royal Flush

    I’d hate to experience a Full House in your shower, unless I was preparing Lobster Bisque.

  18. Paul Dougherty

    They were ‘Bama fans, I just know it.(still stinging)

  19. Arahant

    It also could be a modern adaptation.  In the apartment complex I live in, they recently decided to go with low-pressure shower heads to save water and gas for heating the water.  I’d love to know how it has worked out, because my average shower time is now up to thirty minutes as I step back from the shower and wait for it to either cool off or heat back up while it fills one of the other seven toilet tanks or they wash their hands or whatever.  We never had the problem until they put in the low-flow shower heads late last year.  I intend to complain, just as soon as I find a way to do so that doesn’t involve the sort of words my daddy used when he was doing plumbing projects.

  20. Hank Rhody

    Thank you for the story. That was fun to read, if not to experience.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In