What’s In The Box? – By @AndrewBurrell87

By Andy Burrell



What’s In The Box?  

I want to stop having ideas and start doing them.
The following is a big idea. I don’t know how to do it…yet.

I take my life into my hands and cycle to into London every day. It’s cheap, it keeps me fit and I don’t have to share my commute with loud chewers, nail varnish appliers and various other social despots. I mean, who eats cheese and onion crisps for breakfast? Whilst commuting by bike is cheap, getting clean at the other end is squeezing me dry. I pay silly money just to have a shower at a very expensive gym, all in the name of not smelling like the inside of a Glastonbury tent when I start my day.

My idea is to encourage the wannabe Wigginses to ditch their season tickets and take two wheels to work by setting up a shipping container shower sanctuary where they can get clean at the other end. For every executive banker who can shower at work there must be tens of people serving him his coffees, rolling his sushi and driving his taxis who can’t. But what if there was a way that those people could be guaranteed a hot shower, a clean towel and some simple but nice facilities to get ready for work in? A place that was warm in the winter and cool in the summer, where they could leave their stuff to dry and where they could stop and have breakfast or a coffee with other active commuters before venturing out to join the suckers who have just crowbarred their way off a packed bus or swum against the tide to get off their roasting Central line train carriage.

It’s stackable, customisable shipping containers that can be dropped in to the busiest parts of our cities. Basically, it’s showers in a box. It’s also an idea I hope people will preach about, so I’ve decided to call it Soapbox.

Every Soapbox will be kitted out with private showers and changing facilities. It will have a safe place to lock your bike, heated lockers for drying kit, hairdryers for sorting out your do and all the shower gels, shampoos and creams you could need to help you smell fresh as daisies. You get a towel when you get there. Towels are massive to carry. That’s a huge blessing.

The difference in price between using Soapbox vs travelling by train is vast.

The annual cost of travelling from East Croydon to Victoria by train is £1600. That’s £133 a month, or £30 a week. That’s before you add getting the tube into the mix.

Soapbox would cost you £20 a month, or £4.60 a week.

£4.60 a week. That’s one and a half flat whites, 3/4s of a Pret Chef’s Salad or maybe a well earned pint if you know where to look.

So Soapbox is cheap. But what if you could use it for free?

Most companies don’t offer travel expenses as part of the package, and the fact is that the lower down the ladder you are the more you’re on your own when it comes to expensing things like travel. Trust me, the barista in Starbucks isn’t claiming back her Uber as a necessary business expenditure. I believe, though, that businesses would love the chance to offer Soapbox membership as a perk for staff members. Fitter staff translates to happier staff and, in terms of punctuality, a lot less can go wrong if you aren’t relying on Southern Rail.

I think that some exercisers who do have access to showers at work will still opt to use this service because it offers a bit of separation of church and state. Do you really want your colleagues to see you in all your lycra-clad glory? And even if you do shower at work, where do you put your dirty stuff? It either sits fermenting in your bag all day and then you have to put it on wet (which anyone who’s been there will know is horrible) or you hang it out to dry all around the office, letting everyone enjoy the pungent aroma of your festering bib shorts.

One way to avoid the need to shower altogether is to plod along at a snail’s pace so that you don’t get a sweat on. That’s fine if you’re riding a Boris Bike but, let’s face it, there aren’t any hills in Central London. My target audience can’t afford to live in Zone 1 and pootle along on their city bikes. They have to get up and over Crystal Palace hill and I defy you to do that without needing a wash at the other end. Anyway, let’s say you could get to work and still look absolutely immaculate, where’s the joy in that? You probably haven’t had any beneficial exercise and, more importantly, you haven’t had any fun. We all remember what it was like pelting down a hill on our bikes when we were kids – it’s one of the most liberating feelings you can have to get to the top and then let gravity take over. Now, granted, most of us probably didn’t have to contend with taxis, mopeds, articulated lorries and oblivious, head-in-their-phone, cat-video-hungry pedestrians but, with a bit of care, there is still fun to be had bombing it down the hills of London, Bristol, Newcastle and Brighton, and having a Soapbox at the other end can put that fun within everyone’s reach.

Imagine; the morning commute could become something to look forward to. Let’s make it happen.

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