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The People Who Get in the Shower Before Turning It On Aren’t Crazy — They’re More Tenacious Than the Rest of Us

‘Getting in first is an activity, an adventure, a complex web of strategy and gameplay to liven up your morning’

“When I started to shower, I didn’t have anyone to teach me,” says James (an alias), 27. As a result, he’s spent most of his life getting in the shower before turning it on, rather than taking the usual approach of waiting outside for the water to warm up. “The first minute was always really cold and miserable, though I was sometimes able to stand out of the way of most of the water. I got into such a routine that I never thought there might be a better way, and since I always took showers alone, no one else would point it out — in movies and TV shows, they never show the awkward minute or so before you step in. I didn’t do it on purpose; I just didn’t know there was another way.”

While James is able to blame his unorthodox approach to entering the shower on ignorance, there are many like him, who, for one reason or another, enter the shower before turning the water on, forcing themselves to endure a momentary, but frigid torrent of liquid each and every time. “I used to shower normally, but I found that when getting up in the morning, I’d have a hard time staying awake in the shower,” says Zach, 19. “One day, I was so tired that I didn’t think about warming up the water — I just got in and turned it on. I jumped awake due to the sudden shock of the freezing water and realized it was a very effective way of waking up. At first, doing it every day sucked, but the more and more I’ve done it, the easier it’s gotten. Now it’s at the point where getting in the shower and having the water already be warm is a bit of shock to me, since I’m used to feeling the water gradually warm up on my skin.”

For others, helping save the environment is motivation enough for them to endure the Arctic water that rockets out of the shower head before having even a moment to warm up. “Turning the water on before getting in is such a waste of water,” says Laura, 25. “Since I was little, I was always taught to save things. Even if I lived in a mansion and was a billionaire, I’d still go in and then turn on the water. It just feels weird doing it before getting inside the shower.”

But not everyone who gets in the shower before turning the water on necessarily subjects themselves to a biting stream of liquid — and sometimes, they find it troubling that others would think of them as, well, outright masochists. “When I discovered that people thought getting in first is weird, I realized that they imagine it means subjecting myself to a torrent of freezing cold water,” says John (an alias), 30. “That assumption is a fundamental misunderstanding. I’m as unwilling to experience the shock of cold water as they are, but my way around it is obvious: I point the shower head at the wall before I turn on the shower, at an angle similar to that a man would use at a urinal so as to avoid splashback, keeping my body dry. I check the water temperature with my hand until it reaches a comfortable level, and then I proceed with what you might call a standard shower routine.”

“It’s never occurred to me not to do this,” John continues, “and I was genuinely surprised to find out that something I’d happily done for years and years is considered unusual and disturbing.”

This approach, of course, requires that you have a movable shower head, but if you do, John says it comes with many benefits. “The advantages my technique brings include not having to guess what temperature I should set the shower to, as I can adjust it on the fly; not wasting excessive water, as I can start showering the second the water warms up; and letting the door do its sole job, rather than having to open it while the water’s running in order to get in. The disadvantage is that the soles of my feet briefly get cold. One doesn’t have to be exceptionally hardy in order to brave that. However, I can see how I’d choose to get in second if I had a fixed shower head — not being able to move out of the way of the ice-cold jet would be a dealbreaker, and I sympathize with people who have to negotiate that.”

“To those who think my behavior is preposterous,” John continues, “I simply ask that they don’t knock it until they’ve tried it. Since learning what others think of me, I’ve tried getting in second, and it truly bored me, simply waiting for the water to reach a temperature that would inevitably need adjusting. I couldn’t see any advantage to it. Getting in first is an activity, an adventure, a complex web of strategy and gameplay to liven up your morning. Try it. It’ll change your life.”

But while, sure, there are people out there, like John, who staunchly stand by getting into the shower before turning it on, not everyone who does this stays true to their ways. James, for instance, did eventually learn that letting the shower warm up before getting in was an option — and one that he quickly came to prefer. “Eventually, when I was 25, I took a shower with someone else for the first time, and she asked me why I didn’t wait for the shower to warm up first,” he explains. “It shook me. I felt like such an idiot — like, how could I not have considered other possibilities? I played it off like it didn’t bother me, but I kept thinking about it.”

“It got me thinking about what we aren’t taught, and what things we’re doing that we could have always done better,” James continues. “Maybe some of us wipe wrong, or we walk wrong, and no one pointed it out. I can’t stand cold showers at all now. I always keep it hot, and I wait outside in a towel. I’ll never go back to what I did before.”