Thursday, August 28, 2014

Just Call Me "Holly Hughes"

I'm a germaphobe. Well, that's what society likes to call me. In my mind, I'm just pragmatic. In my comfortable, black and white world, germs make people sick so by avoiding germs and sick people, I greatly increase my chances of remaining well.

In public restrooms, I am a pro at getting in and out, reconnaisance style, without touching any surface other than my own. I transform into a lithe contortionist, opening doors with my foot, locking and unlocking stall doors with my elbow, hovering like a ninja over the toilet, and flushing with my foot (even in the situations where it's a malfunctioning auto-flush and the only way to flush is pressing a tiny button on the back of the tank). While exiting, I'll quickly survey the sink/soap/towel situation and determine whether to wash up or hit the Purell. Then getting out the door without touching it is a final challenge. If possible, I wait for someone to go ahead of me and slip out behind them, letting them take one for the team. When alone, I'll use a paper towel, my elbow, my foot, or, worst-case, the bottom of my shirt, to open the door. I also hold my breath a large portion of the time so, when I do emerge, I can be seen sucking in a new, fresh breath.

I find myself holding my breath when in crowds, anytime I see or hear someone coughing or sneezing, and in restaurants when someone walks quickly by my table.

In the grocery store, I immediately use one of the provided wipes and give my cart a once-over as if it had just hauled a sick donkey.

At home, I use disinfectant wipes and Lysol on door knobs, phones, light switches, and remote controls year-round, not just during cold and flu season.

In hotels, I take wipes and hit the remote control (deemed one of the dirtiest objects in the world, by the way) and the bathroom before I ever open a suitcase. And I never use the glasses they put out with the little paper covers. I saw a 20/20 undercover story once where the housekeeping staff was seen using the same rag to wipe the dresser, the nightstand, the bathroom, then dumped out a used glass and wiped it inside and out with that rag and popped on a new, little paper cover. No, thank you.

If given the choice in restaurants, I prefer plastic/disposable cups and cutlery.

I find the smell of hand sanitizer comforting.

Some misconceptions about germaphobes, or, as I like to call us, "germ averse normal, rational people,” include:
-         “Your house must be spotless.” Ha. You make me laugh. No, I’m a normal person. There’s underwear in the floor. The hamper and/or kitchen sink are piled up. One of the cats has probably thrown up somewhere and I won’t find it for a couple more days. But, by golly, my door knobs are clean.
-         “Germs are good for you. You’re actually doing yourself a disservice by avoiding them.”  I respectfully disagree. I have been subjected to plenty of germs…I’ve been to Chuck E. Cheese.”
-         “People will think you’re crazy.” I’m OK with that. I think they’re all sick, so we’re kind of even.

So, if one day, you find me picking up everything with a Kleenex, sitting naked in the dark for four months, and eating only chocolate and chicken*, well, the least you can do is strap on a face mask before coming in to talk to me.