By Sue Murphy
Variety is good. The world is far more interesting because there are different types of people, different genres of music, different flavors of Kool-Aid. When I write my column, I bank on the fact that readers will be open to a slightly different point of view.
In certain instances, however, it’s nice to be able to approach a situation confident that you will know exactly how to proceed. Along those lines, I’d like to make a case for standardized plumbing.
Some showers have one handle that controls both the temperature and the water force. Even if it requires several soggy attempts, there’s only one sweet spot to master. Other showers take a two dial approach – twice the effort, twice the room for error. There are rain showers and handheld showers and showers where the water comes squirting out of multiple nozzles simultaneously, which I’m guessing would be quite a surprise if you weren’t expecting it.
When I travel, I make a point of deciphering the resident shower code before I even unpack my toothbrush. In one hotel, I finally determined that I had to slide one lever clockwise then depress a knob on a second handle in a counterclockwise fashion until the water reached the desired temperature. I was relieved to figure it out because I was going to be embarrassed to have to call down to the desk … again. I had already used up the bulk of my ditzy American points the night before when I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the Nespresso machine. The desk clerk was very patient with me and I did get the thing running, but then couldn’t figure out how to turn it off so I stayed up half the night watching until the machine turned off by itself. After that, I had my coffee in the restaurant, but I couldn’t make a similar compromise with the shower.
International shower chaos wouldn’t be that difficult to remedy. I’m guessing most of the plumbing fixtures are made by a handful of companies. If we gathered all the CEO’s and gave them some sensible guidelines, surely they would be able to see the benefit of having a single beautiful and useful design. What say we save the whole build-a-better-mousetrap quest for actually catching mice, an upgrade I would personally love to see. Really, I had a mouse visitor in my attic over the holidays but when I went to the hardware store to seek a solution, all of the remedies were too horrible to think about. A mousetrap that eventually released the poor creatures into a more welcoming environment? There’s a worthy challenge.
Anyway, back to the shower conundrum. Just so the Plumbing Summit doesn’t sink into defensive camps, let me say that, yes, the two handled rain shower/ handheld combo was an artful idea, but it may not be the right one going forward. Or maybe it is. Just tell me so I can figure it out once and for all. If anybody’s asking, I wouldn’t recommend my home’s shower set up, a weird configuration where you first turn on the separate water dial, then pull down on the faucet nozzle. There are no instructions anywhere.
Think about it. If this effort were successful, from here on in you could check into any hotel, enter anyone’s home and be assured of a pleasantly successful shower experience. OK, on that last part, I really would get the homeowner’s permission first, otherwise you could end up taking a shower in jail.
Standardized plumbing. Next on the agenda … self-flushing toilets.