Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Everybody Has to be Known for Something, I Guess

If you met me in a public restroom and didn’t know any better, you might assume that I suffer from OCD. To be clear though, just because I behave in a manner that makes it appear as though I have OCD, doesn’t mean I do. I just don’t like to touch anything in public restrooms, that’s all. If people consider that an illness – surely that’s their problem, not mine.

Not only do I not like to touch anything in a public restroom, the truth is, I’d rather squat and pee in the middle of a busy freeway than even go in one (and I have done so, on many occasions, if you must know). Just go ahead and tell me that means I’m crazy – I dare you.

Actually, it’s not just public restrooms that stress me out. I returned to my place of previous employment this year after a 6 year absence. My first day back, a coworker said, “I’m so glad you’re back – we missed you! You know, I’ll never forget my first day of work here when I was asking you about a file and you told me that I was about to make you throw up because I was licking my fingers as I turned the pages.”

“Oh I’m so sorry,” I said.

Everybody laughed at me. It’s embarrassing. But seriously, why do people have to lick things that other people are going to have to touch?

Another day we were visited by a woman who used to work there with me, but doesn’t anymore. She hugged me and in her thick Texas accent she said, “I never forgot you! Every time I have to share popcorn with someone I worry about them licking their fingers and then scrubbing back around in the bowl – I just never would have even thought to worry about that if you hadn’t pointed it out to me.”

And everyone laughed at me.

And now someone who started working there after I’d left really understands how special she is to me. One day, shortly after we met, as I was borrowing her pen, I explained why I feel that as a general rule, people really ought to just use their own pens. But I told her I didn’t mind using her’s. “You don’t really gross me out,” I said.

She furrowed her eyebrows and chuckled. Little did she know that, “You don’t gross me out,” is a complement from me of the highest order. But she does now – so she can join in the office fun of laughing at me. What an asset I am to the workplace.

This was never really that problematic until I became the mother of young children. Actually I thought I was doing fine even then until J came home from first grade talking about some sort of foolishness or other that one of his friends had been engaging in in the bathroom at school. Mid-story I interrupted, “We do not play in the bathroom. Bathrooms are disgusting. We pee. We don’t touch anything. We wash our hands. We get out. That’s it.”

And then he went on to tell me something about the toilet paper dispenser. “Why did you need toilet paper,” I asked, “I thought you never go poop at school?”

“Well,” he said, “I just need some to use to flush the potty after I pee.”

Part of me thinks, oh no, my poor kids are going to be as weird as I am. But I’m secretly pleased that he has healthy bathroom habits already. Or perhaps “healthy” is the wrong word. Hygienic maybe. Hygienic can’t be all bad – can it?
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radical mama said...

You are not alone. I just wouldn't have the courage to point out other people's grossness, although I think it needs to be done sometimes. They should KNOW that they are spreading germs. Common sense, people.

Anonymous said...

this is how Howard Hughes started out.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

I am so right there with you! I make me kids wash their hands constantly and am that crazy lunatic in the bathroom who says, "don't touch anything" a million times. Gross, I tell you. And I become more germaphobic as I get older.

Girl said...

I get the bathroom thing. I used to be a little more lax about it until my kids starting bringing home every germ under the sun, ewww.