It is officially the 4th of July weekend and perhaps we should have striven to cover more ground before everyone and their BBQs flooded the roads to get anywhere other than where they were. 

The truck stop where we had parked to sleep last night was puffing out CO2 like icebergs were out of style. Cars idled in the lot, waiting for a spot at the fuel pumps, for an attendant to stick the fuel nozzle into the car, and press a button. This is Oregon, after all: a state where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas. 

Yet, the gas attendants were hardly our greatest concern. Sunlight and car engines woke us at 6:30 AM. Despite the late-night, we couldn’t get back to sleep, so we slid out of the car to do something new—something we hadn’t done in four days: shower. 

Of course, showering is a bit more complicated when living out of a truck. Our truck certainly hasn’t got a shower.  We barely carry enough water to drink. Some nomads compensate for their lack of a private bathroom with gym memberships. We use truck stops.

Now, technically, the showers are only for professional truckers. You prove you are such with a card. We happened to procure said card late one sticky evening last summer. We don’t use it much at all. But we did use it this time. 

Given the reputations of lonely truckers at truck stops, sharing a shower is discouraged.  Given our thrift and long held shower rituals, we were not deterred.  My fearless driver paid for the shower at the register and we waited for our number to be called.  “Customer 42, your shower is ready.” I loitered by the movie aisle, scoping out the shower situation. “Customer 42, your shower is ready.” I look very interested in the DC powered coolers.  “Customer 44, your shower is ready.” I try not to look excited as my stealthy driver walks down the hall and types in the passcode provided to open up our shower.  It doesn’t work.  A second try and no dice.  A third try and it is time to ask the shower attendant for help.  

But now the shower attendant is standing right next to the shower door.  My driver looks around for me and then proceeds into the shower.  The attendant turns around a corner at the end of the hall, out of site.  I scurry over to the shower but come face to face with the attendant. “Are you looking for the restrooms?” Asks he.  “Oh…yes” I wince at my slow thinking and sheepishly follow his directions in the opposite direction than the showers.

I hover by the display of dash cameras, waiting for the attendant to disappear back around the corner.  I wait a beat, then charge down the hall.  I decisively grab the handle to the shower room. It does not turn. The door is locked and here comes the attendant. “Oh, the restrooms are this way.” He motions behind me.

I retreat to the restroom, take a stall, and pull out my phone to take a digital reconnoiter of the situation.

Driver: “Where are you?”

Passenger: “In the bathroom.  The shower door was locked!”

Driver: “What are you doing to do?”

Passenger: “I dunno, the attendant has already caught me twice.”

Driver: “You should have just said you were taking a shower.”

Passenger: “Too late now.”

Driver: “Are you coming?”

Passenger: “Yeah, have the door unlocked”

I positioned myself by the tool rack but took little interest in the screwdrivers I perused while waiting for the attendant to disappear again.  I was on to him.  He had a short turn in the hall where I couldn’t see him but he could easily spring round the corner to note anyone coming into the showers.  This time, though, I was going to be too fast for him.  The shower door was ajar and I swept down the hall with a ferocity of a shower-seeking missile.  As he came round the corner, I slammed the door and turned on the shower.

My troublesome driver grinned: “If you had taken much longer, I was going to ask if he had seen my prostitute.”

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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