Have you ever taken a shower in prison? I’ll just assume the answer is no. First of all, it’s freezing cold. The water may be lukewarm, if you’re lucky, but you never get that enclosed, hot sauna type of experience with a closed in space and perfectly hot water like you do at home. You have to continue to push a button to make the water continue; it’s a push button system so that you can’t leave water running or use too much so the flow lasts anywhere from 7 to 15 seconds and you have to push it 3 to 12 times just to get it anywhere near warm before stepping directly under it.
People can usually see you. From my experience a thing they like to take away from you most in prison or jail is your dignity. Fair enough, but I am an extremely modest, shy and not willing to share my body with many, person. Picture an open room with 4 carved out stalls on one side with doors that only go from your shoulder to your knees. There are guards walking by twice an hour, if not more, people walking in circles and sitting at tables right in front of you and 2 levels of housing cells with glass windows so that other inmates can peer down at you. Not all jails are exactly the same… but none of them are a good experience.
You never know what you’re stepping into. I won’t name the things that happen in prison showers but let’s just say wearing shower shoes and not touching the walls is advised.
You have to bring everything you need with you when you go. Believe it or not prison showers are not fully stocked with smelly good shampoo, loofahs and body gel. One memorable time I had nothing but a 1 inch bar of lye filled soap. The times I was more fortunate, however, I had an armful of crappy yet expensive bottles of breck shampoo and conditioner, Irish spring bar soap in a soap box, my 1 tiny paper thin towel, a shitty one time use razor and a no name bottle of “shave cream”. Everytime you shower it’s an ordeal and a hassle but as dirty as you always feel in someone else’s clothes, bed and sheets… you still look forward to the cold, disgusting experience on the daily.
Because of all of these things – one thing you look forward to the most is that first shower on “the outs.” The amazingly aromatic smells, the loofahs, the designer brands of shampoo and conditioner that actually clean and soften your hair, the continuous flow of softened hot water, the non lethal razor, as many large luscious bath towels and rags as you desire, no shower shoes needed and most importantly – a closed, locked door with 0 peering eyes and no unwanted company.
For having had this experience… my level of gratitude has been raised sky high and my ground level of despair has been set at absolute rock bottom. My gratitude meter has changed – and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Whenever I am having a really bad day or start getting down on things now, I ask myself this; “But is it prison shower bad?”
The answer is always “No.”