I returned to work recently after a prolonged period of absence to find that something rather wonderful had happened. No, the building and its entire contents hadn’t burnt to the ground (any colleagues or senior management who may be reading this are to be assured ‘I’m just joking’…) and nor had I been welcomed back with a 300% pay rise and a new office with a fold-down bed disguised as a set of filing cabinets like the one in Bob Hoskins’ office in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Man, I could really go for one of those. No, the aforementioned wonderful thing was the installation of some staff showers. And rather swanky ones they are too.
As any amount of running turns me almost instantaneously into a sweaty beast, a post-run shower is an absolute necessity. Thus, up until now popping out for a swift few miles in my lunch break was never on the cards. But, as Aladdin once said/sang, it’s a whole new world. When the clock ticks around to noon it’s time to head down to the showers that double as a changing room, snap on the shorts and hit the streets. Plus, the fates clearly approve as without any effort at all I’ve plotted out 3 pleasing albeit hilly loops that accommodate my need to run either EXACTLY 5k, EXACTLY 4.1 miles or EXACTLY 10k. There is, of course, no real reason why these arbitrary distances must, must, MUST be stuck to beyond longstanding mentalism on my part. But let’s just accept that they mUsT and move on.
On returning to the workplace after the lunchtime jaunt, one must be careful to hold it all together. After all, it might be very easy to think along the lines of ‘Look at me. Here is a man. A fitness God. A titan. A machine. He takes his lunch hour and crushes it, squeezes every last drop of testosterone and awesomeness from it. Come rain. Come shine. Come apocalyptic sandstorm. He owns the streets. The roads. The city. What a guy. All hail the king’ and so forth. In reality, I’m bright red, sodden out of breath and covered in flies – in short, unlikely to make the cover of Athletics Weekly.
But a shower will restore me to looking vaguely human, and I’ve even amassed a collection of SPAR’s finest, cheapest toiletries. No longer are my desk drawers just full of stationary that can be, with a little imagination, used for personal hygiene purposes – when it comes to cleaning out your ears, a Johnson’s Baby Bud gets the job half done but I like to get right in there with a paper clip. Or, as the French call them, ‘a trombone’. Which must lead to a whole host of misunderstandings in a modern multilingual workplace: ‘Ow ahm I zuposed to old ma paypers togezzer weeth thees muzical instrooment?!’
What was I saying? Ah yes, SPAR’s finest, cheapest toiletries: the ‘Enliven’ brand, where everything seems to cost less than a quid (result!) for today’s considerate if frugal office co-worker. So, with my spongebag full of ‘enliven’ (euphemisms abound…) let’s have a good look at these showers.
Warm, comfortable, clean, spacious – if the chips were down I could live in here. Plus, check this bad boy out:
Automatic hairdryer in da house. I don’t have enough hair to necessitate its use but it can still be used to pretend you’re being attacked by a windy alien space-snake. I said can. Hypothetically. You saw nothing here. Also I derive a great deal of pleasure from the fact that it’s a FUMAGALLI, which I challenge you to say out loud in an angry Italian accent whilst gesticulating at an imaginary football referee. According to The Internet Surname Database the name FUMAGALLI is derived from the Italian for ‘smoke rooster’. I’m henceforth referring to all hairdryers as smoke roosters.
My el cheapo Enliven 2-in-1 shower gel may mean I need only ‘take one bottle into the shower’ but when I’m in there I’ll find not one, but TWO dryers. In addition to the smoke rooster there’s also a hand dryer – with this fabulous sticker on it:
Two things happen here. Firstly, I can’t dry my hands without roaring ‘FEEL THE POWER!’ in a tone of voice best suited to a Mortal Kombat villain. And secondly I must overcome the juvenile urge to remove the FEEL THE POWER sticker and place it somewhere deeply inappropriate.
Of course, no entry on this blog would be complete without referring to some sort of highly unlikely yet crushing insecurity. Despite the fact that the shower itself is behind not one but two locked doors, there is still the fear that someone could come barging in whilst I’m busy Enlivening myself. And who would this be? Logically, of course, no-one. To illogical, mid-shower Ben, it’s the site-wide shower inspector and a group of several trade union representatives there to make sure everything is in order. Plus, to further fuel the needless anxiety, there’s the disabled assistance pull-cord thing:
It’s like a perfect storm of irrational terror: I’ll accidently pull that and down to the shower will come someone with a skeleton key to unlock the unlockable doors and assist the stricken bathroom dweller. And there won’t be the relative anonymity of the shower inspector and a handful of unfamiliar trade union representatives to ease the horror of being caught in the nuddy. It’ll be a colleague. *dies*
Still, irrational jitters aside, the showers are great and I’m living proof that such things do encourage staff to be or stay active. As we edge into autumn and winter, a lunchtime run will be eminently preferable to a pitch-black crack ‘o dawner too. And if I decide, over those chilly winter months, to grow my hair a bit to keep the cold out, I’ve got a smoke rooster to hand.