Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.


Shower starts with the protagonist entering a coin operated shower in a Chinese metropolis; the shower resembles a car wash. This contrasts with the rest of the movie, which takes place in his father’s bathhouse in some remote village.

Over the past semester, I have been taking part in the REDI-US study, which has made me more concerned about cleanliness. After a weekly survey question asked me whether I cleaned my hands after riding public transportation, I started remembering to do so.

As I was returning home last night, the building manager stopped me. “There’s a leak in the building, so we’re shutting off water starting at 9 tomorrow morning.” I made sure to set my alarm for 8:30, so I would have enough time to engage in water-related activities. As a precautionary measure, I filled up my Brita pitcher in the kitchen and a mug in the bathroom. Sure enough, I slept through the alarm.

Despite having access to hand sanitizer, this morning’s water problem led me to examine my dirty hands during the past year. I got my hands dirty when I worked on something different this summer. Dirt continued to accumulate into the fall when I started focusing on a new research problem partly to appeal to a wider audience. The dirt may be reaching a peak as I write this because I am currently trying to mix metaphors by adding a reference to how Andy Millman from Extras feels like a sellout. Dirt may help one engage, but it can leave one feeling… well, dirty.

The water’s back on in my apartment, but I’m still looking forward to taking a relaxing shower at my parents’ place tomorrow night after getting off Continental Flight 649. After all, it’s public transportation.


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