A problem every student with long hair knows about: hair in the shower drains. Why is it so damn hard to clean up your own hair? Isn’t this what you do at home? Daily Editor Betsy Ladyzhets does some field research into the matter.
There is hair in the shower drain.
There is always hair in the shower drain. It was the first thing my RA said when we discussed Community Guidelines the night before classes started–no hair in the drain, ladies, it’s disgusting and nobody wants to deal with it. And the whole hall agreed with her, so much so that we added auxiliary rules like no hair on the shower walls and clean your dirty combs after you use them.
No hair in the drain, we said, but our hair did not listen. Every time I step inside the cheap ceramic-tiled stall, it taunts me, this stringy mass of keratin and lost dreams. The hair is always brown, the worst shade of brown–so knotted and tangled and damp that it could have once been chestnut, or ebony, or ginger, but it is now impossible to tell. Perhaps this hair was once golden blonde, the shade of sunlight seeping in through an autumn forest, but it has since been sullied, since been spoiled, since been kicked off its throne and shoved into the mud.
After I finish showering, I peer at the stringy, brown mass from five feet up, wondering what to do about it. Yes, I try to be a helpful, productive member of my community, but does that necessarily translate to drain hair removal? What are the respective pros and cons of picking up this soggy mess? Is the relief of the next person to use this shower stall worth the fortitude it will take for me to transport this hair to the trash can?
I deliberate for a few seconds, then decide: it isn’t.
If I could deal with this difficulty during my shower, the next person can deal with it during theirs. All they’ll have to do is not look down for fifteen minutes. It’s the same basic principle as climbing the rock wall at summer camp.
Someone else will pick it up. Probably.
The next morning, I return to the same shower stall, and there is hair in the shower drain. There is still hair in the shower drain. There is, in fact, more hair in the shower drain. It has festered, it has grown, like bacteria in a culture. I stare at it, willing my brain to somehow form coherent thoughts through the dense swamp of disgust thickening in my cerebrum.
Finally, it occurs to me that when I failed to pick up the hair already in the drain, I also failed to pick up my own hair, added to the pre-existing much. And then other people–how many are there on my floor? Forty? Fifty? And how many of them showered in this stall yesterday?–followed my example, and now we’re all left with this. This…this monstrosity. This aberration. This reeking stain upon humanity. Surely it must be bad for the drain.
I look at the hair. It looks back at me.
Yeah, there’s no way in hell I’m picking that thing up.
I do the only really sane thing anyone can: close my eyes tightly and sing Taylor Swift as loudly as I can to distract myself. I’m careful not to step too close to the mass, for fear of it tangling in my shower shoes. I have one close call–my shampoo bottle teeters off the edge of the wire shelf, and I have to bend down to catch it–but I manage to avoid looking directly down. And I walk out of the bathroom that day with a guilty conscience, yes, but–clean hands, at least.
Someone else will pick it up. Someone else has to pick it up.
The next morning, I return yet again to that shower stall, and there is hair in the shower drain. Actually, there isn’t just hair in the shower drain–there’s hair on the floor. There’s a veritable forest of hair on the floor. If I looked closely, I could probably label individual tiny trees–but my stomach churns at the very concept.
This time, I don’t even bother to brave showering in what I could, I think, rightfully call the Shower Stall of Ew. Instead, I move to a different stall. There’s hair in this drain, too–but only a few strands, much more tolerable. I’m accustomed to the pain, now.
But moving shower stalls doesn’t discourage the hair from growing. Nobody on my floor knows how this is happening, or why; only that one day, the hair covers the floor, then the next, the bottom tiles of the walls, then the next day, the entire walls.
Within a week, the hair has begun to invade the nearby floor. The bathroom is quickly becoming unreachable.
The floor attempts to deal with this problem, of course. My RA sends several passive-aggressive emails. People lay down bathmats. One particularly brave group of girls attempts to hold a séance, postulating that the hair must be controlled by some kind of otherworldly spirit. Several people contact Maintenance, often at once. (Maintenance leaves a large note on the bathroom door reading: “We don’t get paid nearly enough for this shit.”)
And yet, the hair just keeps growing. It reaches the main part of the bathroom. It entangles broken hairbrushes and forgotten headbands. It edges towards the toilets. It lurks, just within the bathroom door, waiting to pounce on any delirious enough to step inside. Once, I swear I hear screams from the bathroom, just after a girl from down the hall stepped inside.
People start going to other bathrooms–other halls, other floors, even other dorms. Anything to escape the disgusting parasite among us. But even when we try to avoid it, it lingers in the back of our minds–vaguely terrifying, vaguely disgusting, like the prospect of Donald Trump as the President of the United States.
Finally, one night, I stumble into the bathroom at three o’clock in the morning desperate for one last bathroom break before I collapse in studying-induced exhaustion, and the toe of my bare foot hits one single strand of hair. With that one tiny touch, my entire brain is suddenly awake. Awake and furious.
Enough is enough.
I march to my dorm room, then return to the bathroom in rain boots, long pants, and gloves, armed with a blunt pair of scissors. Like Prince Phillip cutting through the forest to reach Sleeping Beauty, I slice through the hair. Every piece–everything I can pick up–is tossed directly into the trash can. Time passes in a haze of cutting, grabbing, and depositing.
For a few minutes, I even forget who I am.
After what might be hours of painstaking cleaning, I look around at the bathroom. It’s clean. At last, clean. Even though I know it’s been weeks since the last time they were actually washed, the sinks seem to shine in the fluorescent lights.
I dispose of my equipment and protection, wash my hands carefully, then return to my dorm room once more–this time, for several pieces of paper, a Sharpie, and some painter’s tape.
I leave a note in bright red writing on the inside of each shower stall door: “PICK UP YOUR HAIR. FOR ALL OF OUR SAKES.”
Hair you wish you had via Shutterstock