Thursday, May 22, 2008
Buying a Shower
By Richard E. Noble
In Honor of Hobo-ing America now being on sale at Amazon, I thought a hobo tale would be appropriate.
For those of you who have never spent five or ten years living in a Chevy van under bridges, farmers' equipment shelters, in orange groves, apple orchards, grocery store parking lots, rest areas etc., this should be a new insight.
One big memory that both my wife and I still talk about today is stopping to buy a hot shower.
I'll bet that you didn't know that you could buy a hot shower. Well, when we were on the road you could buy a hot shower at most any campground.
Bathing with a gallon jug, a sponge and a face cloth has its rewarding aspects, but after a while the thought of a lingering hot shower becomes overpowering. To think of standing under a continuous flow of clean hot water and luxuriating, actually became a compulsion and periodically through our years on the road we had to give in and throw away a dollar each on that extravagance.
Never since our return to civilized living have I ever turned on our shower or our water tap at home without thinking of the wonder of it all. That little turn knob or lever on your sink or bath tub is not actually connected to God. And the fact that water comes spewing forth is not really a miracle. It takes a whole bunch of pipes and a whole system of people to make that experience the reality which is taken for granted by us all.
How many of us ever wonder where that water comes from and how it gets to our homes? When we first "homesteaded" our place here in Eastpoint, my brother-in-law and me pounded down both our water wells. We still have our well functioning. We use the water for the garden.
I can remember the guilt caused by my lingering at one of those $1.00 campground showers. I often thought the lady or fellow who sold me the shower would grab me on my way out and yell, "Do you realize that you used 150 gallons of hot water just now!" But it never happened.
We often got by on five one gallon containers of water per week in our travels. It takes five gallons of water just to flush the average house toilet one time. Your automatic clothes washer and dish washer are unbelievable in the number of gallons of water they consume. Carol and I once hauled every gallon of water that we used. I don't think that there are enough hours in a week for us to haul all the water we use today in our civilized existence.
As back-to-the-land-ers in Arkansas we got our drinking water from a mountain stream that ran through our property and we bathed in rain water that we caught in our canoe. We thought that we were doing great until we heard a warning on the radio about the danger of drinking water from a mountain stream. Pure mountain stream water is filled with chemicals and herbicides sprayed on the wilderness forests. Just because you live in the middle of a National Forest or wilderness area that doesn't mean your water is safe to drink. Form then on we had to drive 20 miles once a week to a free artesian well in Mena, Arkansas for our water.
In some primitive campsites that we stayed at, water had to be hauled from a central location via a hand pump. When you have to walk to a well and then pump by hand every gallon and then haul it back to your home, you become very stingy in your use of water.
Here in Eastpoint my wife and I use 900 gallons of water per month each, but that is nothing compared to what most average city folks use today. The average person in the U.S. uses more than 3,000 gallons per month. Americans use 408 billion gallons a day. If we had to haul all that water from the pump in town to our homes I'll bet that 408 billion would shrink considerably. If we estimate the difference between what we actually need to live and what we use, to be waste - holy moley!
Today my wife and I really feel spoiled: we have indoor plumbing, we hop into the shower whenever we feel like it, and we have electricity - in every room! We even have an automatic dishwasher. I don't know whether to feel grateful, guilty, or privileged. I guess I should feel a whole bunch of each. In this respect one can truly say, God bless America!
Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble. They are now both available on Amazon.com. If you would like to stock my books in your local bookstore or business, contact me at 670-8076 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org