12. Taking Care of Business

2018.07.31  First things first.  I need to give credit where credit is due. In my last post I made reference to a thought that I found compelling in a sermon, and attributed it to the pastor who was delivering the message. It actually comes from an author, lecturer and spiritual teacher named Marianne Williams.  The thought, as she wrote it, is as follows:

Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.

Well said, Marianne.  (Btw, she’s a Houston girl, Bellaire High School, 1971.)

Now on to domestic matters. Even though the work is piling up, I took some time out today for some room cleaning, laundry, and enhanced personal hygiene.

Room Cleaning. Our rooms are straightened, trash is removed, and towels are swapped out every day.  Bed linens are changed twice a week. Not bad. Trouble is, not much cleaning goes on.  Which means that (thinly) carpeted floors don’t get vacuumed. Which means the crumbs from the crusty bread that accompanies the soup that I take out from the snack bar most days for lunch fall on the floor. And remain there.  Which bothers me. So today I decided to run one of those lint removal rollers over the carpet. I used up almost the whole roll.  And got almost all the crumbs. And a whole lot more. Don’t ask. Ugh!

Laundry.  This was actually surprisingly easy.  Exeter College has a “laundrette” at the bottom of Stairwell Ten.  Stairwells, as I have reported before, are the defining directional tool in the college.  A load in one of the six washing machines costs 1 pound, 30 pence.  (A little less than $2.00) But drying and ironing are free!

Enhanced Personal Hygiene.  Disclosure: major digression ahead.

When I learned that the boiler serving my stairwell would be down indefinitely, I proudly reported on this blog that I gladly opted for cold showers in order to keep my 17th century room.  The high temperature that day was 88 degrees F under a bright sun. Two days later, the high was 62, under windy, rainy skies. So, although I did not regret my choice, the cold shower caused my personal hygienic practices to deteriorate. My daily “shower” consisted of wrapping a towel around myself for warmth and sticking my head under the shower head just long enough for the stone cold water to (sort of) wet my hair. I stepped out, lathered up, and stuck my head back in just long enough to (sort of) rinse out the shampoo. (Repeat cycle for conditioner and finish off with a spit bath for the body.)

Every day I walk past the office of the porter (aka building manager) on the way to class and give him a smile and an inquisitive look. Every day he smiles back and shakes his head.  No new boiler in sight. But today he beckoned me over to his desk.  He gave me a slip of paper that said Stairs  9,12,13,14. He said, “Those stairwells have community showers with hot water.  Just thought you might want to know.” And winked.

So I packed up my toiletries, towels, and a change of clothes and headed out to Stairwell 12. It’s in a perfectly ugly addition built in 1988 which is, thankfully, hidden behind the perfectly gorgeous chapel built in 1650.  I found the community shower on the third floor and for the next twenty minutes luxuriated in very hot water under very high pressure.  I was about to step out when (Thank you, Heaven!) I looked down and saw that, due to a slow drain, the water had crept up over the top of the shower basin and only the closed shower door was (mostly) keeping it inside the shower.

Suddenly I was transported back to one of the worst moments of my life – at the Kappa house at The University of Texas in, say, 1976. After waiting (for quite a while) for my turn to use the community shower, I was finished but the drain was slow and and the water had crept up over the top of the shower basin and only the closed shower door was keeping it at bay.  It was the night of a formal dance.  And my date was due to pick me up in half an hour. So I needed to get out of there. Quickly. So I waited. And the water was sooooooo sloooooooow. Finally it seemed to me that most of it had gone down the drain and if there was just a little bit left it was probably ok. So I decided to open the shower door and make my escape.  BAD idea.  There was enough water left in the basin to rush out, flood the bathroom and leak through the ceiling of the 85 year old house into the foyer below where the girls with more seniority were already gathered, ready to leave for the party. That group included someone who intimidated me.  I generally tried to steer clear of her. Well she was the one who bounded up the stairs, burst into the shower room, and as I cowered, dripping wet, behind an abbreviated bath towel , demanded, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”  I cringe at the memory to this day.

So standing there in the shower in Stairway 12, I was ever so patient. And all was well.

Here is a map of Exeter College.  Unfortunately, the stairwell numbers don’t show up very well.  My stairwell 3 is in the lower right hand corner.  My building adjoins the Hall (aka Hogwarts, almost). My classes all face the Quadrangle as does the Chapel.  The laundry and community showers are in the newer buildings behind the Chapel on the left side of the map.  I still pinch myself regularly to be sure I am really here .




2 thoughts on “12. Taking Care of Business

  1. So, after reading this post, I think of several cliches: “Good things come to those who wait.” “Patience is a virtue.” And “Making lemonade out of lemons.” Hope you have a good upcoming week. I also have a big deadline on Tuesday, Aug.7. So, ill send thoughts, prayers and good vibes your way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s