Not having a consistent shower location can be a drag, so gym memberships are often a good way to mitigate this concern, but free showers are always better and sometimes pools are enough for a quick rinse.
A little creativity (or climbing) is needed to get past security sometimes, but generally speaking, it's as easy as walking in.
Here are my experiences with showering around UCLA.
Beginner's luck for the first shower...
Day 2: May 12th, Saturday
The rest of the day I spent exploring the showers at UCLA. Since it was Saturday, Hersey was closed, and I'd need to visit some other time. SAC was open, and I tried checking the locker rooms, but it was locked. As I was leaving, two asians from the front desk returned from the staff break room. I looked at them briefly, and said, "The locker rooms are closed?" To which one of them said, "No, they're open. We usually ask for your bruin card though," and she motioned for me to head in as she clicked some buzzer from behind the front desk. This was new information to me, and I stored it in the back of my head. Since I was inside the locker rooms, I went to the showers, of which there are 2 separate rooms with 4 showers on each side separated by small dividers, making for 16 showers. I went to the furthest one (even though there was no one there at around 7pm on a Saturday) and decided to shower since I had the chance to. I imagined what it was like to shower when curtains and privacy hadn't existed yet. I generally had a habit of facing backwards in the shower, but if I had done that in public shower times I would have been staring straight at some guy's behind and exposed my sex at the same time. Though no one was there, I turned forward for once. There was a soap dispenser which I used as shampoo and body-wash. It didn't lather well in my hair since it wasn't made for hair, but alas, it would have to do. I finished my shower, get a bunch of brown paper napkins from the dispensers and used them to dry myself off.
After leaving Easton Softball field around 3am...
Day 4: May 14th, Monday
I check that my belongings are still in the gulley, and I decide to head to Kaufmann to "shower" in the pool. I didn't shower yesterday, and SAC would definitely be closed at this time, so the outdoor pool would be the best (and only) option to wash myself. Since 3am-5am is generally a dead period where no one is awake, I'd be able to do it safely without getting caught. By my estimates, I'd be safe from people on campus until around 6/7am when the janitors begin to start their morning cleaning shifts.
As I head down the sidewalk to the left of Drake Stadium (parallel to Bruin Walk), I'm surprised to see another person walking around at 3am in front of me. I consider the homeless people I saw yesterday, what were all these people doing? And what was I doing? These people likely were forced by circumstances into waking up at 3am or being homeless –they didn't choose their circumstances, they had obligations, actual things to do, but me, I wanted this, I chose this, and because I chose it, I know I can just as quickly leave and end it. That's not something they can do.
I head around the left side of Kaufmann, turn the corner so I'm perpendicular to Jann Steps, and climb over the small gated entrance to the courtyard of Kaufmann. Despite it being late, I make sure to check the surrounding areas and look through the windows to see if there's anyone around. It's clear, so I take off my bag, place it by the exit, and get out a piece of underwear, and a pair of socks. I consider changing my shirt and gym-shorts, but after feeling them a bit, I consider them still sufficiently clean. I get a spare Twilio shirt out as my towel, and head over to the wall that separates the courtyard from the pool area.
I hop onto a stone bench that's along the wall to get a bit of extra height, hold my underwear, sock, and spare t-shirt towel in my hands awkwardly, jump up, grab onto the ledge, and pull myself up. I make sure to get down as quick as possible because on top of the wall I can see past the pool area all the way to the sidewalk, and if I can see, that means if someone is around, I can be seen. I land on the ground, and check the windows and doors around me and consider what I would do if someone happened to be on the second floor of Kaufmann looking down at the pool area. I decide to place my change of clothes as close to that wall as possible. The pool is not opened yet, and the pool covers are still floating in the pool, but they don't cover the whole pool, and the far corners have enough space for a person to jump in.
I test the pool water with my feet; I'm hesitant because it's a bit cold out, but the water feels warm enough. I strip my clothes off and submerge myself in one go. It's pretty fucking cold. I shake my head in a shiver and go about rubbing myself down to clean myself, I dunk my head a few times for good measure and tousle my hair, and then I get out. I try to dry myself with the Twilio shirt, but I realize now that it's made of mostly polyester so it doesn't absorb well. This realization freaks me out a bit since every second that I'm not dry I feel colder, but satisfied with being dry enough, I put on the rest of my clothes even though I'm still a bit damp. I'm wearing both jackets that I have, and I zip them up. I get my dirty clothes, head towards the wall I jumped over, hop on a trashcan near it (since there are no benches on this side), throw my dirty clothes over, get my balance correct, jump up, grab the ledge, bang my chin against the wall a bit, but pull myself over, jump down, grab my dirty clothes, and pack them in a gallon zip-lock bag in my backpack. I leave Kaufmann and start walking towards SAC and bruin walk.
I'm not sure what I'll do now, but I consider finding somewhere to sit so I can write or otherwise go to sleep again. Out of curiosity I check the front doors of SAC which are closed. I continue walking around the side and decide to check the side door just out of curiosity again, not expecting it to... open. ?!?!!?
I walk in and carefully close the door behind me so it makes minimal noise. I'm careful to walk as quietly as possible so I can pay attention to other people's footsteps if there are any. I hear nothing, there's really no one here.
I head to the SAC pool area front desk and check the male locker rooms, the handle doesn't turn, but the door opens. Nice. Regardless, I hop over the front desk since I recall that usually the doors are completely locked and that there's a button that needs to be pressed to open them. Sure enough, when I'm the other side, there's two buttons, one for the girl's locker room, one for the guys.
Around 6am after leaving Easton Softball Field...
Day 5: May 15th, Tuesday
As I arrive at the crosswalk leading towards Kaufmann and SAC, I see that the door to North Pool is open. I cross once to see if I can get an intel on if there's anyone inside, and I see a guy setting up the pool. I turn around and head in, going straight for the door to the office on the right, which then leads to the locker rooms. The guy doesn't bother and continues to set up the pool area.
The Kaufmann locker rooms are small, divided into three compartments, a locker area, a shower area with three showers, and a single urinal, toilet, and sink. This is my first time here, and I place my belongings on a bench near the three showers. I may sure to place them carefully because the ground is wet, and the bench is relatively thin. The showers in Kaufmann are divided by solid walls this time so they are a bit nicer. I open my backpack and consider what parts of my clothes I should change. I get out a new t-shirt and decide to keep with the same underwear and socks since its only been a day. I place the t-shirt on top of my bag, get a bunch of brown paper towels from the dispenser near the sink, place them on a metal rack to the upper-left of the shower, turn on the shower to warm it a bit first, then strip my clothes and shower. There's a soap dispenser again, though it comes out pink instead of green like the one in SAC. I use this as shampoo.
I continue showering and begin to think it might be better to change undergarments and socks. I do a tally in my mind of how many times I would have to do laundry over the course of a month or so if I changed underwear at the rate I am now. I leave the shower on and walk over to the bench and consider getting a fresh pair out, but I don't want to get my stuff wet, so I stare at my bag and reconsider. I don't realize a person has walked into the locker rooms until he's looks directly at me and then goes to the urinal. I walk back to the shower and contemplate those old men who walk around naked in public gym locker rooms, I feel slightly bad for the person, then I consider how I didn't feel particularly embarrassed like I imagined I would have if a male saw me completely naked. There's a first for everything. Maybe I'm the old man now.
I finish up my shower and decide it's too much of a pain to reach inside my bag and fetch out a new pair of underwear, but I do switch shirts. I roll up my dirty shirt (to save space) and place it in a gallon zip-lock bag I pre-labeled with sharpie, "DIRTY". I zip up the zip-lock bag and place it in my normal backpack.
I decide to leave from the a door that says "No public exit" to avoid the lifeguard on duty which takes me into the main area of Kaufmann.
The whole of society is really quite non-confrontational. If you don't give people a reason to confront you, they likely won't. Even if you do give them a reason, there's so many ways for them to back out of it they'll usually take it. This is in contrast with "hard-ballers" who are willing to take advantage of this exact sentiment of people's unwillingness to "take to arms" or be confrontational. Landlords that keep tenant's security deposits against the law for example: they make the bargain that most people won't take them to court since the time to confront is "not worth it". When people are obliged by a job however, and they don't have a plausible way to backdown (i.e. they could get in trouble as a consequence of negligence), then people will confront since the fear of getting in trouble is greater than the necessity of confrontation. Either way, this concept of confrontation is important to the existentialist soul who wants to arrive at a level of personal autonomy. Society conspires against confrontation, but confrontation is a required mode of existence when working on anything creative. Why? Status quo = society. Creative = create a new essence, bringing about the existence of something new. The new confronts the traditional, otherwise you're creating things that have already been created, remixes of the old. New means uncertain reception. Now, that doesn't mean tradition is better or worse than "new things", it's just that they are always in conflict with each other at the core, and the resolution of their conflict is what brings about change. The barriers a creative has to overcome in order to bring the new into existence is always higher than the existence of the old staying as it is. This resistance forms the focal point of all societal change. It's the new that must prove to the old that what it has is of merit, not the opposite way around, and therefore society sets the playing field and drama for creative works to overcome the status quo –this is confrontation at the core.
In this light, social graces are seen as the longest standing measure of status quo there is and if a person becomes too used to accepting this, they will lose out on the opposite energy of creativity that is unwilling to compromise itself in the name of societal norms. Society will always ask a person to compromise and place aside their individuality for the sake of allowing normal functions to proceed orderly, like buying a cup of coffee –we don't barter because the costs of bartering are in confrontation and disagreement. These are good things, but not if the value of confrontation is forgotten, as confrontation strives to reach into the core of existence and not simply exist as a watered down version of being that society asks everyone to subjugate to for the sake of order. Compromise says society, but the creative will– never compromises, it attempts to transcend tradeoffs.
This brings us back the function of jobs. For most of the times, confrontation need not happen, but there are always a few cases in which confrontation may occur. They occur when the worker has no option but to confront, since the primary function of society is still to provide as much order and as little confrontation as possible. Applied further, we can see that the need to confront is based on the job's level of responsibility. A janitor's domain of responsibility is cleaning, so janitor's are not highly confrontational. Confrontation, if it happens, can more likely be placed on feelings rather than any inherent responsibility. Student workers have to perform their function, so at Kaufmann, since the student was preoccupied with setting up the pool, the secondary function of carding students is plausibly avoided. The student technically should card me, but it would require a confrontation (since I walked past him quickly (but normally)) and he had a different responsibility that acts as cover for denial of the secondary responsibility. At SAC, the story is different since the primary responsibility is carding there, not setting up the pool. Therefore, since it's the primary function, I would not be able to escape confrontation, which, I have no desire to engage in either, since being homeless, the best strategy is to be unseen and therefore gaining access to showers without the risk of confrontation, even if it ends up causing no harm.
Day 12: May 22nd, Tuesday
Midnight becomes 3am. I decide to shower. I head down to SAC and pray the side door is open again, it is. As before, I keep my steps quiet in case anyone else is here. This time when I arrive at the front desk, the locker room doors aren't open, so I reach around the corner and press the buzzer, then try to open the door, it doesn't open. This confuses me; I try pressing the buzzer then opening the door again; it's locked. My brain flashes back to when the front desk lady was there and she pressed the button... it makes sense now, she had to hold it down. My brain feels relieved that I didn't try this when anyone was actually here; then I think, how am I going to keep the buzzer held down and open the door at the same time? I open my backpack and consider the different items I could use to keep the buzzer pressed. I get out a small roll of Scotch tape and a 3x5 notecard, hop over the front desk, fold the 3x5 notecard into a small rectangle, press it down along with the buzzer, then press tape down on the sides of the interior wall of where the buzzer is to keep the rectangle down. I hop over the front desk and try opening the door, it's still locked. I go back and see that the tape has loosened and the buzzer is no longer pressed down. I try again; I fail. This time I press the rectangle down harder, place more tape to keep it held, prepare my body to hop over the front desk while keeping the rectangle pressed down, then, as fast as possible, I execute, hop over, grab the door handle of the locker room in one fluid motion —and it opens. I keep it propped open with a yellow stopper, head back to the buzzer and remove all the tape that failed in previous attempts as well as placing my notecard back in my backpack. I enter the locker rooms, I close the door behind me, and I shower.
Day 19: May 29th, Tuesday
At 9:00pm I head to Dykstra Floor 10 to shower with the room card key I picked up off the ground a few days ago. It opens the hall bathroom; I get a bunch of brown paper towels to dry myself with after my shower and pick the far right shower. The water is warm and refreshing. Afterwards, I sit at the end of the hallway and work on my laptop.
Bonus: Showers are only useful if you also have clean clothes, luckily, getting a laundry machine wasn't too hard.
Day 22: June 1st, Friday
I head to the secret location by Easton where I stored my belongings and pack up all my dirty clothes in zip lock bags. I'm surprised by how little space it takes up —there's only around 6-8 gallon ziplock bags with various shorts, underwear, socks, and t-shirts rolled up tightly in neat rows. I take the trail that leads to Hitch Suites then head to the laundry room. The room card key works as planned, opening the door to the laundry room, and I pass a hot blonde girl wearing striped colored pajama shorts and a loose-fitting v-neck. I start opening my zip lock bags which I carried in a white-colored trash bag and place them in a washer. I also add two tide pods which I'd brought. The drum barely fills to half since all the clothes keep their compressed form: 12 pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of socks, 10 t-shirts, 2 jackets, 2 button-downs, a pair of pants, two gym shorts, and a blanket. Actually, that's not bad for three weeks —some double days, but nothing tragic. I showered on average every 1.5 days and changed every 1.75 days.
As I'm thinking about this, the hot blonde goes behind me and taps the door with her bruin card which makes a beep, the sound that signifies the door is unlocked. I don't pay attention to this, but I do pay attention when she walks out the exit to the left and I stare at her ass. It's very nice. I pull out the quarters I brought in my bag, and she fades out of sight. I look at the laundry machine and look for the slot for the quarters, remembering that the laundry machines in the Sycamore Residential Dorms had quarter slots, but I don't find it. I get up and start looking at all the machines. I'm baffled —there's no quarter slots, these machines don't accept quarters! I get ready to repack all my dirty clothes, frustrated, but then I look at the machine, and in flashing block letters it says, "CHOOSE CYCLE," I look at the machine again, baffled. It's free? I press warm and then click start. The machine whirs. I look at the machine for another moment, then it connects in my brain —I turn around and see that what's behind me is the pay machine, not a door. The girl tapped her bruin card and paid for my laundry, and I didn't even realize it! She didn't say anything and just walked out! I...
I head outside and think about this.
I consider her kindness juxtaposed with my staring at her butt. I should have at least told her she was pretty —maybe that would have been better. Maybe she felt bad for me because I had trash bags as my laundry bag. Maybe I look tired as fuck. Maybe there's no reason at all, but I realize this is the same uncomfortable feeling very pretty girls have to deal with all the time. Guys just give them random gestures of "kindness", and they have to accept them or else be called a bitch who's ungrateful but really just wants to be left alone for one moment of the day. It makes no sense.
The girl who said "Good luck!" to me at SAC reappears in my mind. Somehow she was paying attention, and she didn't have to ask if I was homeless or not, she just knew something was different. That says a lot —paying attention to other people, it's not something we're very good at nowadays. Maybe it's a girl thing; I sure as hell don't see guys paying attention. I don't blame them; guys are taught to assert themselves which really means stop paying attention to other people. You begin to forget there's more than just your own reality when you're always asserting.
Another girl I saw in the plaza by the Humanities building reminded me of this. She was also very pretty, and she sat diagonally in front of me for a little while, then left and went to the plaza closer to Royce. I followed her with my eyes and felt bad that I didn't try to talk to her, so I got up and went to where she moved and said, "Hi, I just wanted to say hi," and she looked at me pleasantly with a smile, but I was embarrassed and looked at the ground, and she said, "Hi! Nice to meet you," in the most natural sounding voice. It felt very humane to me. I stood there for a slight moment with her sitting looking up at me, and I said, "Well, I just wanted to say hi... bye!" and I walked away. She was very pretty.
If there's something that girls get more than guys, is that most communication is nonverbal (though some girls are oblivious to this too). Unfortunately that's why screens are so detracting to relationships, you just stop paying attention to anything that's not verbal and then instead of fixing the problem and paying more attention to nonverbal communication, we try to fix relationships by "communicating better", adding more verbal dialogue... it doesn't work: communication is still primarily nonverbal, and we have to relearn it. To understand someone is to hear what they have to say, which is primarily nonverbal. It would be more accurate to say we need to see what others have to tell.
I sit on a picnic table outside the laundry room. I consider how I'm going to do the dryer. Maybe I can bring all my clothes to Sycamore? That's a long walk to De Neve though, and I'll be ridiculous, but what other choice do I have? I suppose I won't have to decide until the wash is done.
The washer should be about done now. It's 5:00pm. I head in and there's a guy doing laundry, he's wearing earbuds. I raise my voice slightly, "Hey! Do you think you can tap me? I only have quarters, I'll pay you back," and I point to the pay machine. He takes out his earbuds and says, "Hey, sorry, I'm low on my card..." Damn earbud people. "It's alright," I say. I stand around for a bit, I guess I'm heading to De Neve. As I walk out, another guy comes in, and I double back. He's not wearing earbuds. "Hey! I accidentally only have quarters, do you think you could pay for my laundry?" He replies, "Oh, I was just about to refill my card, I'll be right back!" "Great, thanks!" and I wait around for a bit walking circles and place my clothes in the dryer above it. I get a bit nervous and wonder if he just decided to leave, but he eventually comes back, pays, and says, "How much was it again?" I hand him $1.25 in quarters, "one-twenty-five," I say. I consider giving him more, but it seems silly to me since I'd only be giving him a quarter or two more... hardly worth adding, if anything more insulting. It's good to be exact and let him have the pleasure of helping. He nods his head and does his laundry, I press the start button, success. It's 5:18pm.
The laundry finishes, I fold, walk back on the trail, and pack my clean clothes.
I'm at a good college so that biases it a bit, yet UCLA is a strong societal ideal. If anything, this is what the rest of society wants people to strive to be like, as defined by society: intelligent, athletic, and attractive. UCLA really plays to surface beauty, beauty in terms of aesthetic. There's a movie and art-like feel to UCLA campus. ↩︎