Green World Problems
Every ridiculous word of this actually happened.
On our way to England, my mom and I decided to take a day-trip stopover in Iceland. We had an 8-hour bus tour around Reykjavík and learned much about their history, geography and world-view. It was lovely and a little exhausting.
One of the things we learned is that Iceland is noble in their goal as a country to have zero dependence on fossil fuels. They are within a percentage point of achieving it, no doubt spurred on by the very real specter of climate change on their rapidly melting island.
I give this preamble to explain that I am fully on board with any and all green initiatives. Almost.
Arriving late in the day to my Reykjavík hotel (that I will call TrendBoutiqfłłggær) after a sleepless overnight flight and that all-day tour, I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than a long sleep.
But first — a long, luxurious shower. The first order of business after dropping my bags by the bed.
Like many green hotels, they have dispensed with the single-use bottles of shampoos and conditioners, and replaced them with large pump bottles of unguents. Which was fine with me, it is a good trend worldwide. They had taken the extra step of removing bars of soap as well, and replacing them with a pump bottle of bath gel. Also fine.
The difficult began when I realized that the pump bottles weren’t actually affixed to — or even particularly close — to the shower. Rather, they were outside the fully-enclosed glass shower, on a little ledge above the toilet.
Clearly this was a quiz.
I was perfectly ready and very excited for a quiz after being awake for 36 hours. And so, I stared very intently at the bottles and made some hypotheses about what to do next.
Hypothesis 1: the Nordics are very clever with purpose-suited containers and peripherals. Perhaps the hotel had some device to get the unguents from the pumps to the shower. I started looking around for reusable vessels which I could squirt my required liquids and gels into, and then bring this imagined vessel (maybe a plate? A little tray?) into the shower with me. I could see IKEA selling this sort of thing. I examined every nook of the small bathroom and didn’t find any unrecognizable accessories.
Hypothesis 2: Perhaps I was to pick up the pump bottles of my desiring and bring them into the small fully-enclosed shower with me and put them on the shelf in the shower. Fair. Scrutinizing the glassed-in shower, surprisingly, there was no shelf. For anything. And certainly nothing that could support up to 4 large pump bottles of goo. (The designer had nonetheless found room for fancy dials and handles for two different styles of shower head).
Hypothesis 3: Ah! Maybe this was one of those “everything in the bathroom is really part of the shower” style bathrooms where the whole room is designed to be splished and splashed with water and then it all elegantly swirls away through a big central drain. I had stayed in this sort of place once in a TrendBoutiqueTikiTiki in Hawaii.
Thus, I imagined, I could turn on the shower, walk out of the shower over to the line of bottles, pump a cleanser into my hand, walk back into the shower, utilize said cleanser, go back out for the next cleanser, return to the shower, lather, rinse, and literally repeat. Not only would it get me clean and help stave off climate change, it would also improve my step count for the day.
Hypothesis number three for the win!
And so I began. While it felt a tad silly, I was rather proud that I had logicked my way through this. Step-two-three, pump-two-three, step-two-three, lather two three, step-two-three, pump-two-thr-
And then I observed that Hypothesis 3 was, in fact, flawed. Very flawed.
The TrendBoutiqfłłggær bathroom was in no way the same as the TrendBoutiqueTikiTiki bathroom. With the shower door left open during my pump bottle waltz, a sizeable swell of sudsy water had sloshed over the confines of the shower area and was ominously moving its way toward the bedroom. I had expected it to swirl happily back into the drain. The Tsuds-nami did not swirl anywhere near the drain. Small sud-rivers began to breach into the bedroom.
To be clear. This was far more water than a simple bath towel could contain. The levees had broken and I had no sandbags.
This being Iceland, I had no FEMA.
So I used my extensive understanding of hydrology and my many years with the Army Corps of Engineers and did the most rational and professional thing I could in the situation.
I kicked the water.
Frantically. I kicked and kicked and kicked the cascading bulge of soapy water back toward the drain as quickly as I could. Gene Kelly had nothing on this. My effortless transition from gentle waltz to Singin’ in the Rain was positively Robbins-esque.
Ultimately the floodwaters receded and I mopped up the aftermath with every single one of the towels, wash clothes and hand towels in the room. I changed into PJs, collapsed into my bed and was asleep in minutes.
Relating this story to my mother over breakfast the next morning, she suggested Hypothesis 4: Next time, put the bottles on the floor of the shower.