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Secrets & Showers as a Cabin Dweller – #Alaskan Living #AtoZChallenge

“Put your name on the list.” she said as she pushed over a dog-eared notebook for me to sign. ” There are four people ahead of you. Do you have preference on which shower you want?” Of course I did, for crying out loud. If you did not get the ones closest to the main hot water heater, you were going to have to deal with the chance of lukewarm water. I already live in enough discomfort having no running water; I really could do without a cold shower.

Paying for Shower Time“Five or Six would be great Ashley.” I knew more then likely I would have to wait a bit longer, but Ashley knew me well enough to make sure I got the softest towel and washcloth and the hottest shower. It was nice to be known, even if it does cost five-dollars for this 20 minute luxury. Here in Fairbanks, AK and other small towns with a large community of dry cabin dwellers there was a need to have a place to clean up and the Laundromats usually had facilities.

UAFlogoStudents at University of Fairbanks, Alaska have other showers available and even lockers for rent at the student recreation center and student union. Some folks who are not students will use the ones in the student union and usually the other cheek is turned because the workers understand the need. Other then a private club, of which most people who live in dry cabin’s cannot afford, there is only one other place and it is a ten-dollar fee to use the facilities, swim, steam, etc. They have anywhere from one shower to the six here at the B & C Laundromat where you know you will get good water pressure and a clean stall, (they clean them in-between every customer.)

Since I came without laundry to do in between the shower there was nothing but to people watch. Today there was the usual fair of diverse folks waiting to wash the grime away and have a nice therapeutic time in the shower. I sat down and closed my eyes to listening to the washers sluice the grunge away and smiled as heard the triple loader go into the spin cycle unbalanced as usual. Their were the routine customers of your standard fair from families with their children running around with the lollipops that are always given to the kids with their parents permission, or flying the airplane that is making a landing after taking off from the play area back in the corner. I sit next to a middle age man wearing his dirty Carhart overalls and wondered if he is a construction worker. You never knew in Fairbanks, AK. Carharts are usually warn by men and women who worked outside from winter to fall building homes, working for the government on the military bases as contractors. But as many of us here in the Interior can attest, we all have at least one piece from Carhart Fashion. Heck let’s all it Fairbanks Haute Couture! Heck, when the temperature drops below -49 Fahrenheit it is a must if you want to be safe and comfortable!

My personal favorite No. 5 at B & C Laundry

My personal favorite No. 5 at B & C Laundry

My neighbor’s long tangled hair that was held back by a rubber band and his fingernails were filthy along with the rest of him. Perhaps he was one of the few homeless in town treating him to a shower. He had a small laundry sack as if he was even going to wash the few clothes he had. In Fairbanks, AK the saying goes your formal-wear is your clean Carharts, a good flannel shirt and your clean Bunny Boots!. This gentleman had obviously had been wearing his Carharts for over a month without washing them. Then the handful of college students with wet uncombed hair folding their clothing and attempting to project something in the realm of “Young and with it” who choose to live without running water because it is cool to do so Perhaps they do, but the fact is over fifty-percent of all residents here in Fairbanks, AK live in these waterless cabins.

laundromat-familyMother’s in their laundry wear sweatpants and their husbands undershirts were trying their best to keep an eye on their three year old while managing to move a family of five’s clothing from washers to dryers. Let’s not forget the bachelors with their single laundry bag full of white socks, t-shirts and a few jeans. Their dry cleaning, which consisted of Pendleton wool shirts and Eddy Bauer sweaters, hung on wire hangers covered in plastic at the top of their carts. It is an interesting array of people. Who needs a magazine or a book when you have this circus to watch!

coinslot-for-shower“Kriss, shower is ready!” Ashley called over the ever-abundant live plants that are strewn all around the place. I grab that great towel and washcloth with my shower kit slung over my shoulder and entered shower five, my favorite, and started getting ready. It is like a ritual. I place my shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrush within the stall. I put the token in the slot, hang my towel over the token slot and start taking my clothes off, layering them so the ones that go on first are on top, a ritual that I have created from the slew of my obsessive habits. I plunk in the token and set it on the hottest I can stand and in a crawl enjoying that first rush of water. Every shower, when you live in a dry cabin, is almost as good as a great orgasm. I try to take all the time I can to enjoy the brief twenty minutes of bliss. It is hard to understand unless you have no running water, are homeless, work in a mine, or are in construction and it is beyond bliss in its experience.

A few of the College Coffee Characters ©2010 Kriss Morton)

A few of the College Coffee Characters ©2010 Kriss Morton)

Feeling like I was just at a spa I emerge to see the scene has changed little other then the ones waiting for the empty showers. A little girl runs past me clutching a doll and giggling as her older brother taunting her about something follows in close pursuit, one of the bachelors actually stopped the boy and said better slow down or his mom would probably not let him have the lollipops at counter. Thinking to myself “Ya, that will last five minutes at best!” And I was right. Laughing quietly to myself, I thanked Ashley again and headed over to College Coffee to get my usual four shot soy latte in those lovely mugs, the ones you can see the foam at the top and which make me feel like a queen.

My story may have begun with a moment in my day people watching and a mundane shower but it continued into one of the more interesting of shower days. Perhaps a day of reflection as I waited for my fiancé to pick me up at the coffeehouse chatting casually with the usual characters and a few of my favorite baristas. He walked in looking 10 pounds lighter from the stress relief his shower brings finding me sitting on my usual couch drinking my latte, cruising on the Internet and discussing the significance of Medieval Literature in this day and age with one of the other patrons. I look up and smile, gathering my things so we go home to cook a quick dinner using the smallest amounts of cooking accouterments and making the fanciest of dishes in our wee cabin in the woods to down for a night of movies and recounting the tale of our day.

(a version of an originally published piece for a sociology class. I changed it up to fit the blog and the significance of the day.)

2 Comments

  1. Wow! Your life seems very fascinating! 🙂

  2. I’ve never lived without running water but the closest I can think of is when we go to festivals and you’re camping without running water/facilities for a week – often in quite muddy circumstances.

    That first bath/shower/hair wash is such bliss!!

    My extended bio for some work I’m doing at the moment makes reference to my love of baths! Only because we don’t have a working shower – I love a good soak instead, and as hot as I can bear it.

    That was a really good read!

    Mars
    Curling Stones for Lego People

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