WTF Wednesday: Most. Complicated. Shower. Ever.

Posted on
May 11, 2011
Posted in: Rants and Raves, WTF

Italian interior design hurts my brain. You’d think that for a country so well-known for its clothing, the inside of homes and hotels would be more fashionable. Instead, they’re what I imagine people in communist Russia thought the future would look like. The decor is weirdly sparse. Even in homes where people have been for decades, it looks like they just moved in. And most of the furniture I’ve seen, no matter how new, isn’t sleek or modern looking. Instead, it has an inexplicably pastoral look to it. It’s like someone’s grandmother all of a sudden decided to be a minimalist, but didn’t bother redecorating.

Sadly, I don’t have a lot of photos that depict this concept, though this one isn’t terrible (ignore my passed-out husband on the bed):

Bizarre, right?

The room was entirely empty save for the bed and a small nightstand. And despite being brand new (the hotel was only a few years old) the design on the headboard looked like a well-preserved relic from the 1900s.

And it’s not the first time I’ve seen this phenomenon. Rand and I have stood in the lobbies of elegant European hotels and homes with similar decor. Clean lines in the architecture, crisp right angles and new, stainless steel doorknobs, and a single settee sitting in middle of the room with such elaborate upholstery that Scarlett O’Hara could have used it to make one hell of a cocktail dress. And you stare, scratching your head, trying to make sense of it, but can’t really.

It’s damn confusing.

Not as confusing as this shower, though:

I half expected Jeff Goldblum to emerge from it, naked, a la The Fly. Which, for the record, I would not complain about.

Notice, too, how its modernity is, in this case, completely at odds with the rest of the bathroom. But I digress. When I walked into the bathroom, I was at the “F#ck it” point that every traveler eventually reaches: I simply did not care anymore. I wanted a shower, and that was it. And I wasn’t going to let the fear of accidentally being teleported naked into another space and time stop me from it.

“Okay,” I said, looking at the – no hyperbole – 24 different jets from which water could potentially spray, and the digital screen which supposedly controlled them all. “You can do this.”

I couldn’t.

I don’t know who could. Honestly, if you had gathered Einstein, Spock, and Stephen Hawking and told them to figure out how the thing had worked, they’d had thrown up their arms (well, Stephen wouldn’t have, but you get the idea) and said, “Screw this. Let’s go get a beer.” (At which point I hope they would call me, because I so want an invite to that party.)

I hit a button which, instead of turning on the shower head above me, shot a stream of water from an unspecified location which hit me directly on the groin.

“GAH!” I screamed, and instantly shut off the water. I looked at the several of the two dozen jets, trying to figure out which one was the culprit. Even under my icy gaze, they revealed nothing.

One of these bastards is to blame.

“Okay,” I thought, trying to somehow lean away from the soaking wet crotch of my jeans, “let’s try this again.”

At which point the entire scene repeatedly itself, because I didn’t do anything differently.

“GAH!” I screamed again, still unsure of which jet had hit me.

And suddenly, I was in a Three Stooges sketch. Remember the one with the oyster that keeps squirting Curly in the face? It was like that, except in the crotchal region.

I forgot to pack my Rosetta Stone. How embarrassing.

I stared at the hieroglyphics on the shower’s digital screen and tried to decipher them (as an aside, why the hell does a shower need a digital control panel? Italy is thousands of years old. Bathrooms do not need to be this cutting edge.)

Should you ever encounter a device like the one above in your travels, let me spare you much time and frustration: all of the symbols that look remotely like water jets do not, in fact, control any of the jets. Instead, I would suggest frantically pressing all the buttons and whimpering, progressively soaking the crotch of your pants with errant blasts of water, until finally, and seemingly rather randomly, water begins pouring out from the jets near the top of the shower. At that point, hop in (you can keep your clothes on if you want. At this point, they will be soaked anyway, so you might as well give them a wash), and pray that the machine will behave for the next 8 or so minutes, and not begin sporadically spraying you with blasts of water or ultimately teleport your miserable and jet-lagged self to the middle of nowhere.

Seriously. WTF, Italy. Showers do not need to be this complicated. Make them more simple, and I promise, riding public transportation in downtown Naples will be a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved.



Leave a Comment

  • Yeah, that’s insane. Very worthy of “WTF Wednesday” (which is itself a brilliant concept, I might add). WHY do people need to take something that is relatively simple and make it so complicated??? What perverse pleasure do they take in doing that?

  • I object to your proposed science team. Everybody knows Stephen Hawking is fictional.

  • Oh, wow. I would have probably given up after the second spray and gone to look if the hotel had a pool. They always seem to have the little rinse showers by the pool and those couldn’t possibly have been that complicated.

  • lisa

    It does look like if there *had* been clear instructions, it would have been the ultimate in hotel shower experiences.

  • Arne-Per Heurberg

    You are a superstar. How fun. When I didn’t see it on Twitter I thought you had left our project behind (says he without an active blog…). I am working on that and will pick up the slack! (BTW- its Italy, just has to have good aesthetic design, right).

    • Everywhereist

      Nope – definitely didn’t forget about it! I’ve been doing WTF Wednesday for a few months now, and they really are fun (you should check out the archives!)


    • Everywhereist

      Best. Comment. Ever.

  • Then, unlock Toad for temperature control.

  • Ann

    Those symbols are utter hieroglyphics to me (oh, except for the power button! I think), but now i am coveting that transmogrifier shower cube for my downstairs bathroom. It does look like an amazing shower experience.
    Akso,I can’t believe I’ve never heard of San Marino before now! Thanks for sharing!

    • Everywhereist

      I am pretty sure the power button didn’t work. At least, not the way you’d have expected it to.

  • Katherine

    I LOVE IT that the control panel is placed where you must stand in the way of the water in order to use it. Holy mackerel, not only a bone-headed interface, but complete ignorance that many of us turn the shower on OUTSIDE the stall, to avoid getting doused with ice-cold water.

    I’m an industrial designer (practitioner as well as professor) and feel your pain. On behalf of my profession, I apologize for the meathead who designed this. It was probably one of my D- students. D- students? Those are the ones who are the worst in the class–so bad that you can’t give them the F they deserve, or they’d have to repeat the class and you’d have to endure them AGAIN!

  • Nostalgia! My ex Italian girlfriend’s parent’s guest bathroom had such a contraption, and though I only approach Einstein & Hawkin’s writing with mild trepidation, I never got to grips with the shower either. This was in Treviso in North Italy where they are, or at least claim they are more efficient, honest, and sensible than Africa (anywhere South of Rome)

    I must admit to being unimpressed that you fiddled with the shower while wearing clothes. Why? That makes as little sense as the shower itself.

    But yes a control panel that requires you to get wet to operate is dumb. Even if you argue (as I do) that showers are best approached nude, you might need reading glasses (or a hearing aid if its’s really funky ((not your personally of course, you look young)), and you don’t want either getting wet.

    I suggest you watch more Stargate. Samantha Carter is always saving the planet if not the whole galaxy by deciphering hieroglyphs in the nick of time with baddies shooting at her with awesome weapons.

    • Everywhereist

      Yes, in retrospect, being fulled clothed was not the smartest idea. But I make bad decisions. Also, I was cold (and don’t get me STARTED on the heater).

  • tahrey

    Though it’s probably far too late to test the theory, I’d hazard that if you’d ignored the digital panel and instead tugged on the handle-like implement between it and where the shower hose attaches, the “normal” shower head would have started spraying water. Pull in/out to control flow, and turn clockwise/anticlock to control temperature.

    There’s an epidemic of these stupid one-handle mixer tap things around europe at the moment, so it sort of jumps out at me as being a possible solution.

    They wouldn’t be so bad if they actually worked smoothly, but given that they’re in an environment prone to limescale and soap scum build up, and never get lubricated, they suffer from awful stickiness, and usually the only positions you can rely on are “fully off”, “maximum power”, and “really hot” “sort of lukewarm” and “freezing cold”. Never thought I’d find myself hankering for the old two-tap bathroom shower adaptor days, but if it’s one of those vs a power shower with a one-handle design, I’ll take the old skool method.

    • Everywhereist

      I was too frightened by the technology to do anything at that point.

  • Cleo

    OMG, seriously can not help laughing out loud. My husband tells a lovely story about public transportation in Naples, and yes you’re correct … might be better than crotch blast in the shower when you’re essentially sleep walking after a long flight.

    • Everywhereist

      On the plus side, crotch-blasts are an effective method of waking someone up.

  • That just reminds me of seeing buttons on the side of a toilet when i visited japan. And being the curious person i was, i simply pressed one of the buttons…. imagine my surprise when the water hit my intimate area! Yeah……

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  • I came across a shower like this in my CouchSurfing hosts home in Poland. It was wonderful. And I didn’t even use all the jets, dials, and teleporting capabilities.

  • Carolyn

    I’m at a complete loss as to why none of the comments center around the obvious: I have been sobbing with laughter. I’m sending it to my mom for Mother’s Day.

  • Oh dear, and we in Europe call these showers “adventure showers” and the hotel, which has it, presents them proudly on theri brochure/website/Facebook page etc. etc.

    You had me almost ROFL with your first experience and to be frank, I was confronted with one of these showers with far less buttons (ie. only 8 at the height of my navel and 2 above it and no autoamtic control, all mechanics) , one water jet hit me unexpectedly at my tummy (nothing but myself got wet ;)!) , but the next go was the right one. Phew!

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