Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Get Naked at Work

My normal 4.8-mile commute went to 7.9 miles this morning. I took a load of shirts to the cleaners for clean and press, then rode to work. A couple of hundred yards from the entrance to the driveway I suddenly had a flash of realization that I hadn't packed any dress socks this morning. I ambled along thinking, ok, what do I do? I could wear the white socks I have on, but that'll look pretty daft with my dark olive pants and black dress shoes. I could ride back home. That'll kill most of an hour. I could go with no socks. That seems more appropriate for boat shoes on your yacht at Nantucket than black dress shoes in the office. What would I do in a car? Well, I wouldn't forget my socks. I glanced at my watch; it was already a little past 8:00, so Target would be open. I could ride over there.

So I did. I bought a six-pack of dark dress socks in the Extended Sizes (13-15 shoe size), a box of Kleenex and a tin of nuts, then rode back over to work, making up the 7.9 miles.

I took a shower. In 20+ years of professional work this is the first office I've been in with a shower. It's not brilliant, but it is there. It's at the back of the first floor men's room, a room about 8X10 feet with a couple of hooks on the wall, a couple of folding chairs, and a shower stall. It has a locking door, so you do get privacy. This also prevents hi-jinks like co-workers pinching all your clothes while you're showering, something that would occasionally happen in the dorms at college, but that's way funnier at 20 than it is at 47.

The shower thing works well in part because hardly anyone uses it. There must be a couple of other users because they leave some soap and shampoo in there; I take mine with me. On the other hand, it never seems wet in there, so maybe they don't use it a lot. If 50 people all of a sudden began commuting by bike and wanting showers in the morning, this wouldn't work so well, but at the current level of commuting here it seems fine. There is one other guy who rides regularly. He rides more often than I do and further as well, 13 miles one-way. He also gets here about 6:00AM, unlike me, more of an 8:00-8:30 kind of guy.

The shower room has no lockers, so everything goes upstairs with me. The cycling shorts, t-shirt and socks just go in my commuting pannier, the shoes I carry, and I take the towel up and drape it over a box under my workstation to dry out. For compactness, I use a Cascade Designs packtowel, very thin material. It dries you off differently than luxurious Turkish cotton bath sheets, but it folds down really small. It's all polyester microfibre, so can get smelly if left wadded up in the dark, so I wash it and hang it out to dry in the sun from time to time which cures that problem.

I don't always shower at work; in cooler and less-humid weather, I'll just change clothes after a damp-mopping of myself in one of the lobby bathrooms. This time of year, though, it can get plenty humid and it's not hard to work up a sweat even in only five miles.

I keep a pair of dress shoes and a belt in a drawer in my cubicle, so after the shower pad upstairs in stocking feet and put on the shoes and belt. Now I'll have a spare pair of dress socks in there as well.


Nathan said...

Same thing happened to me my first summer*. I didn't think to go pick some socks up, though - I just went commando (does that work with feet?). I, too, now keep a pair at the office.

*"my first summer" - don't I sound experienced? It was last summer.

Anonymous said...

I used to work about 11 miles from home, and at the time I thought that was too far to commute by bike. Now I know better, although now I ride only 7.5 miles to work. And the old job had nice showers, too. But at my current job, we have a fitness center on campus, so I use that for showering. I've forgotten various things that I used to think I couldn't live without: socks, a clean undershirt, a tie, a belt (that's no good now though, because none of my pants fit anymore), soap, shampoo, a towel. Soap!? Shampoo?!? Yes, I just squirt some of the handsoap by the sink into my hand before I hop in the shower, and use that. Not the cleanest clean, but at least it washes off the sweat.