Thursday, August 13, 2009

TMI Thursday: Save water, shower with a friend

It's TMI Thursday my friends. For more stories that will entertain and disgust you at the same time go to LiLu’s place for this week's full list. And now, on to the fun!

This one falls into the TMI war stories category.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…” – Teddy Roosevelt.
What’s the longest you’ve gone without a shower? For most people, the answer to that question is probably in the five to seven day range – the length of a good old fashion camping trip. But, even during a trip like this, there’s usually a lake or stream where you can wash you ass somewhere around Day 3 or 4.

For me, the answer to the question is somewhere up beyond the 30 day mark. Imagine 30 whole days, a month, without a shower?

This shower-free time was not part of a sojourn to a hippie commune, rather quite the opposite, in fact. Back in the early days of 1991, the government asked my friends and me to head over to Saudi Arabia to assist the Kuwaitis in a little land dispute with their neighbors to the north. Seeing as how Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm took place mainly in the desert (believe it or not, there was a naval element), water and showers were in short supply.

Now, I’m not saying we didn’t keep ourselves clean, we did. Or, at least, as clean as we could manage. ut the little whore baths we took mainly involved stripping down nekid while standing in the open, about a quart or so of water in a bowel – half cold, half hot from our 40-cup coffee urn – a washcloth, a plywood board to stand on and continuous prayer you didn’t drop the soap. (No, not for the reasons yer thinking. Have you ever dropped a wet bar of soap in the sand? If you have you know you might as well just throw it away ‘cause using it after that is like trying to wash with a brick.)

We called them CPAs for the most important parts you cleaned: Crotch, Pits and Ass. Yeah you got clean, but it was even less satisfying than a
Navy shower.

Then came the day after 30 or so days in the desert when we got to head over to the big supply area to pick up some spare parts and – Glory Hallelujah Sweet Jesus! – get our utilities cleaned and take a hot shower.

We actually waited in line for our turn.

I’m going to skip the description except to say that while the water had a bit of a chemical smell (chlorine), it was hot, with pressure and absolutely, positively glorious. Basically the best 10-or-so-minute shower I’ve ever had in my life.

After we all got dressed in clean skivvies, socks and utilities (an older version of the ones on the left) one of my buddies, Reggie, commented, “I ain't nothing but clean from head to toe!”

He was right and we were. And the feeling lasted pretty much through the next day.

But hey, wait a minute! Where did all that water for the showers and laundry come from? The water in the showers never turned off and it’s not like there was a giant water tank sitting there.

After a bit of investigation we learned what a
ROWPU is. A ROWPU is a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit. Basically, a ROWPU can pretty much take the dirtiest, nastiest water you can imagine and turn it into clean, delicious drinking water. The city of Tampa Bay uses a giant one to turn salt water into drinking water.

So, basically, what was happening was the water was coming out of the shower head, over our bodies – and those of every other dirty, filthy Marine for a 50-mile radius – down the drain and into and out of the ROWPU.

And then back out the shower head.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Liebchen said...

Um...thank God for purifiers? Though, I wonder if sometimes it's better not to know.

Ignorance is bliss, and all that.

lacochran said...

What would get me would be the head itch. I can't stand to go more than two days without washing my hair.

FoggyDew said...

Liebchen - The water was probably cleaner than what comes out when you turn on your tap, even after multiple trips through the system. But you're right, the less you know in this case, the better off you are/were.

lacochran - Me too, but we all avoided this problem by shaving our heads. Well, except for our platoon sergeant Lumpy, he went for the faster "burning process" during an unfortunate incident with a multi-fuel stove. This also removed his mustache and eyebrows just for good measure.

LiLu said...

I'm with Liebchen. What they don't know... still, UGH.

FoggyDew said...

LiLu - Ignorance is, indeed, sometimes bliss.

Sebastian said...

Aw, but I bet secretly you were rather impressed with the modern technology involved with you, and hundreds of others, being able to shower in clean, safe, pressurised water... right?!

And you're not actually all that disgusted...