Everyone has their own way of dealing with the corporeal form's major demands: eating, drinking, sleeping, and practicing good hygiene. I don't think I've nailed every element of caring for a body. (I'm dehydrated like, right now.) But there is one element I feel confident that I've mastered: Showering. More specifically, when to do it. Showering in the morning is too jarring—what is this, basic training at Fort Hood?—and showering at night is too limiting—I either have to rule out any sweaty activities for the next six hours or turn my bed into the Titanic with my wet hair. There's another time to shower that is infinitely superior, as it both cleanses the body and frees the mind. I'm talking, of course, about the mid-workday shower.
Showering in the middle of the day is pure luxury. You're fully awake, which means you can really drink in the showering experience. Oh my God, how lucky are we to be alive at the same time indoor plumbing exists? What if we had lived in Victorian England or ancient Egypt? When you shower in the middle of the day, that means you've had time to take stock of exactly what you need to do, hygiene-wise, to prepare yourself for the upcoming evening, which means you can be as efficient as possible—no dipping back under the water to shave your calves because you just found out that your friend's hot roommate is going to be at trivia. And when you emerge from the shower with a few hours left on the clock, you have time to sit completely still so your hair can air-dry in the most flattering way possible. It's a win-win-win situation.
I personally started my mid-workday shower journey in 2019, when I worked remotely for a weed magazine. That magazine's proprietor thought drinking the free beer at the Williamsburg WeWork where he paid for my membership would make me "better at writing." I chose not to get literally drunk every day; instead, I got drunk on the power of a flexible schedule. I rediscovered the treat that is the mid-workday shower in March 2020; and now I remain, lucky and officeless, able to bathe at will. I wish everyone could experience the bliss of a mid-workday shower—which is why, if you're able to work from home, I implore you to take advantage of the opportunity to reclaim your shower time.
Let me be perfectly clear: The mid-workday shower should not happen on your lunch break. That block of time is for eating lunch, obviously, or smoking a cigarette, or getting an iced coffee with your underemployed friend who's hooking up with someone in your neighborhood. No, part of the appeal of the mid-workday shower is that it is a separate slice of the day that happens whenever it's most convenient for you. And unless you're really close with your coworkers, you should absolutely not clue anyone else in on the fact that you're fully taking a shower during the workday. Because you're not showering to work—you're showering to live.
And bosses, if you're reading this post and composing an angry reply about the evils of time theft, make like a stable boy and hold your fucking horses because a mid-workday shower can even be good for one's job performance. It's a great, caffeine-free pick-me-up before an afternoon of back-to-back meetings; and more importantly, it gives me the sense of agency that can only come from feeling like I'm getting away with something. It's basically the work from home equivalent of—hypothetically speaking—"borrowing" whole rolls of toilet paper and unopened boxes of tissues from the office bathroom. If I didn't have the ability to shower mid-workday, who knows what I'd be doing to get that rush. Embezzling, probably.
Katie Way is a writer-editor at Hell Gate. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at VICE. Her work has also appeared in The Nation, Study Hall, Lux Magazine, and MEL. She loves talking to strangers.