How many people does it take to operate a shower? Does this sound like one of those corny old jokes like “how many people does it take to change a lightbulb?” The answer to the second question is three: one to hold the lightbulb and two to turn the ladder. I couldn’t find the answer to the first question anywhere, but operating a shower is obviously a tricky undertaking, as evidenced by my latest experience at the Blue Lake Christian Writers’ Conference. The conference is held in a lodge in a beautiful, peaceful rustic setting where Wifi and cell phone service are “iffy,” which to me is a huge plus.

Now let me preface this by saying that the conference was phenomenal, as always, despite me having to bring my own Diet Cokes. But this year I was prepared with several bottles. I even had people ask where I got the contraband, and since I’m a generous soul, I shared. I didn’t even make them buy my books in order to get a Diet Coke.

As usual, however, I digress. I probably wouldn’t have paid any attention to the shower instructions posted in the bathroom if they hadn’t been pointed out to me by my roommate, Alice Murray. Now Alice had every reason to check out the shower instructions, as last year she got up before I did to take her morning shower. As I lay snuggling in my warm bed, she emerged from the bathroom wrapped in her wet towel, her skin the shade of a Smurf.

“There’s no hot water!” she informed me.

What? Oh no. If there’s one thing I can’t handle it’s a cold shower unless I’ve been out in the 100+ degree heat in the middle of the day and dripping in sweat. Even then, it’s a toss-up as to whether I will actually have the fortitude to plunge my body into a cold spray of water. But first thing in the morning on a cold morning, no less, ain’t no way that’s gonna happen. I secretly pondered if anyone would notice if I went for the whole retreat without showering. I made my way into the bathroom, thinking maybe I could wash and dry one body part at a time. As I turned on the shower, hot water issued forth.

“Alice, there’s hot water,” I called. “Do you want to get back in the shower?”

At that point, she’d already dressed and declined the offer, although she was not a happy camper. It turns out that you have to let the water run in the lodge for five to ten minutes before it warms up. She had graciously warmed it up for me without knowing it.

So this year, when she came out of the bathroom laughing, asking how difficult it was to operate a shower, it piqued my curiosity. Apparently, there is a process, which I have outlined below:

Shower Operation

Big Knob (in the middle) On and Off Controls

Temperature Regulation

Clockwise (to the right) for Cold

Counter-clockwise (to the left) for Hot

Lever (at the bottom) Regulates Water Pressure

Clockwise (to the right) is low pressure

Counter-clockwise (to the left) is high pressure.

Now Alice and I examined the mechanism very closely, but we could only find one knob, big or otherwise. We wondered where the little knob was and what it did. Was our shower missing an important component? As for the temperature regulation, isn’t that standard? (Except, of course, for our kitchen sink in which Hubby hooked up the hot and cold faucets backwards.) But despite the detailed instructions, we had hot water, which made us both happy. Still, were detailed instructions really necessary, particularly since they left out the most important piece of information? Nowhere did it say to let the water run for five to ten minutes to warm up. Plus, I’m not sure the pressure lever worked.

But apparently, everyone doesn’t have the shower acumen of Alice and me. My friend, who owns and rents out a condo in Miramar Beach told me about the last clients who stayed there. They called complaining that there was no hot water. This was after five people took back-to-back showers and the hot water ran out on the fifth person. Duh! Guess they needed explicit instructions to let the water heater recover after four showers.