My room mate and I share a small bathroom in my host family’s apartment. It contains a sink, a toilet, an unused bidet, and a small bathtub/shower. The shower has sliding mirrored doors that my madre warned us we must Always Open on the Left.
“One girl opened it on the right,” she said, “and she fell in.”
When one opens the sliding door (on the left side), one sees that the taps are on the long side of the tub, not one of the narrow ends as they would be in the States, leaving the showeree with precious little space between the door and the taps in which to stand. I can only assume that this means the Spanish love to take baths instead of showers, and have cleverly avoided being dripped on by the faucet overhead as they luxuriate, unlike Americans. The shower head, as it would be in the States, is immediately above the taps.
One of my first nights here, I got back from a club at about 2 a.m., stinking of cigarette smoke and someone else’s spilled beer. I stepped into the shower, and, during the course of the next 1o minutes, managed to turn the taps off a total of three times by backing up an inch too far.
Well, the fourth time was the charm. As I was busily rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, shivering as I readjusted to the temperature change–my lack of spatial awareness had deprived me of water again–the taps…turned off.
“What the hell?” I knew what it felt like when I backed up and accidentally turned off a tap, and I had not done that this time.
I pulled the taps up again. Nothing.
I pulled out the knob that turns the faucet into a shower. Nothing.
In supreme refusal to face reality, I did both at the same time.
I got out of the shower, shivering once more, and tried to turn on the sink. But the basin remained bone dry.
“Oh shit,” I muttered. “I broke it.”
Grumbling, I dry-swallowed my vitamins and, dreading the morning, went to bed.
But the next day, I heard nothing from my padres until lunch time. “Did someone come in and take a shower very late last night?” my madre asked.
Expecting to face some Spanish wrath and a large plumber’s bill, I said, “That… was me.”
“Well,” she said, “it’s my fault for not telling you this, but our neighbor came to me and said that I should talk to you about that. When he heard you showering, he decided it was too noisy, so he turned the water off.”