The Moving Chronicles: The Widow-Maker Shower.

September 10, 2012

While I was apartment hunting, one of my [hopeful] criteria was a water heater. Electric showers, affectionately labeled “widow-makers” for very obvious reasons, seem to be a pretty common fixture throughout Latin America. I wanted no part in that junks. As the cookie would crumble, I ended up with a house instead of an apartment and one with a widow-maker at that.

Honestly, I didn’t think it was a big deal initially. Until the interns came home one day and started firing all sorts of questions at me about the shower, I was blissfully unaware of the mechanics of such contraption with no real plans to climb my way out of ignorance. But when their frantic commentary continued, I started to get caught up in the the panic. And so like any good twenty-first century citizen, I Googled it.

Baaaad idea. Every single source that popped up was an expat or short-term Latin American visitor decrying the terrors of this bathroom barbarianism. I read so many accounts of people getting daily shocked while showering and perused even more describing what seemed like a complicated art of usage.

I am crabcakes in the morning as it is. I was sure adding a delicate dance around death everyday would not bode well, but I had no choice but to face the shower head…head on (or off depending how the shower went).

As one may gather from the name, the shower water is heated electrically. The problem with this arrangement is that electrical wires are left exposed and should water splash up onto them, there is a fair chance the showeree will get shocked.

One must flip on a switch when entering the bathroom and slowly turn the faucet on. Too much water pressure and the water will not heat. Too slow and the showeree will be scalded. What our contraption essentially produces is a low water pressure, lukewarm rinse. I think an entire baby can be incubated during the time it takes to wash my hair each morning.

Other necessary features are rubber mats to offset shockage and since I couldn’t find an affordable rubber hose to line the shower handle, I purchased a creepy glove reminiscent of crime scene evidence to avoid direct contact with the metal while the shower runs.

With great trepidation, I attempted a shower the first morning I awoke in the new house. Fortunately I was so sticky and dirty from the heat that showering was unavoidable (because I would totally forgo bathing for fear of electrocution). And…it wasn’t so bad. After fretting over ice cold showers for the rest of the year and then finally remembering to flip the switch, I made it out alive and at least a little cleaner for the wear.

The water pressure was poor as mentioned previously, but altogether, the experience was manageable and not quite so terrifying as expected. It is a very narrow shower space so water tends to splatter all over the bathroom. A shower curtain and rod were nixed because we didn’t want to add any more metal to the situation. But I’ll take puddles over fried green Lo-matoes any day (I mean, people pulling me out of the bathroom dead and naked…no thank you very much!).

Check out that sexy death trap.

The orange glove of glory.

Multicolored madness to aid us in stayin’ alive.


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