Truckstops are a daily fact of life for those of us who measure life in mile markers. A clean, hot shower is a daily reward for an often dirty job. The good news is, there are no CFR rules governing water pressure, elbow room, towel size, or soap dispensers. The bad news is, there are no CFR rules governing water pressure, elbow room, towel size, or soap dispensers.
Most truckstops use the same basic design plan for showers. They’re cramped, flat, and airless, allowing water to splash on every surface in the room. There’s barely enough room on the vanity for my shaving kit, unless the manager leaves a business card and a piece of hard candy on it. Then there’s no room at all.
Water pressure is low enough to dilute fingerpaint or high enough to blast the paint off your Freightliner. And woe is me if the shower next door decides to flush the toilet. I’m about to experience a third -degree scalding, or polar ice plunge in about one second.
My shower kit has expanded, over the years, to include a flashlight, (for when the power goes out), and a screwdriver, (to tighten loose deadbolts). It also includes a cellphone, so I can call the fuel desk to complain, and my business card so they can call me for leaving the truck blocking a fuel pump.
I would schedule a shower for off-peak hours, if there were such a thing, but there are no off-peak hours. If there are two cashiers, and three drivers waiting in line, one of those employees is going on break. But don’t get me wrong. The porters who actually clean showers do the best they can, and deserve a tip, or at least a thank-you.
Off-brand fuel stops often don’t have showers, and those that do aren’t always habitable. Yet I have noticed recently that some of these smaller places have spacious parking, fresher food, and better showers than The Big Four. Prices range from to free to say-what, but most of these aren’t connected to a toilet next door. That’s because there isn’t one next door.
Sometimes no matter what truckstop logo adorns the building, things happen in the shower that defy explanation. I could tell you about it, but then, you wouldn’t believe it. On the other hand, everything I do tell is true. Or could be true.
Some weeks ago, in a bit of a hurry, I grabbed my gear and headed for shower 7. Everything was fine. The water was warm, the air was cool, and the power stayed on the whole time. Just before exiting the shower, I lobbed a bottle of shampoo towards the sink, and it hit the mirror instead. Bouncing off the glass, my TSA-approved bottle of Shampoo smacked the toothpaste tube, which spun once, then flipped into my can of shaving cream.
The shaving cream can fell into the toilet, which erupted in an automatic flush, and that in turn sprayed the floor, where my new running shoes were sitting without previous guilt. I tell you that to tell you this. There is no good way to sneak out of a truckstop wearing wet running shoes, and no better way to stop every conversation in the store.
Keeping my body—-and the truck—-looking clean, legal, and properly equipped is all part of taking pride in the ride. It’s the cornerstone of keeping safe, staying cool, and remaining good looking as I am. Hey, I told you, everything I say is true. Or could be true.
WORDS TO LIVE BY: If you want something you’ve never had, then you have to do something you’ve never done.
You can reach Roger Clark at [email protected]