I wanted to call this tale, “I Had to Cut It Off,”, but I have already used that title. It would have been perfect, though.
Garbage – what a menace! I despise handling garbage. I see other people pulling their trash cans down to the curb or back up to the house, and they don’t look distressed. I would like to imagine that they all go back into their houses and scrub up thoroughly, but I know that doesn’t happen. I have seen people – even people I know – handle their trash cans and move on straight to some other task, contaminating all sorts of things in the process.
Many years ago (before I had devised many of the procedures – aka rituals – that allow me to function at a relatively high level), garbage day was much worse than it is now. I recall one evening coming home from work. It was dark, cold, and rainy. I pulled up into the driveway and saw the empty trash cans waiting to be pulled back up to the house. This occurred before I had discovered disposable gloves, but I had recently figured out how to use plastic sandwich bags as pseudo-gloves. I had some baggies in the car, so I thought I would get the chore out of the way before going in the house. I would regret this decision.
I was dressed in a skirt and a sweater. These are not proper garbage-handling clothes. I did have the foresight to roll up my sleeves a few inches, but, as I soon learned, not far enough. Before I realized it was happening, the sleeves were unrolling and they were precariously close to the garbage can. I moved ahead cautiously as I was almost to the end, but there was no way for this to turn out well. One of the sleeves hit the can. I wanted to shriek in horror, but the neighbors were too close.
I managed to get in the house somehow, but my problems were just beginning. I went into the bathroom as that is where I usually go to get clean. This time all I could do was stand there in front of the sink looking in the mirror. Through tear-filled eyes I contemplated what I was going to have to do. My arm was already soaked in filth, but I was going to have to pull that sweater over my head and spread the nastiness all over. Then I had the prospect of showering for an hour to try to get it all off. I was distraught.
Sometimes it pays not to act too hastily. I stood there so long, procrastinating, that it finally dawned on me – the sweater was old and I probably wouldn’t wear it many more times anyway. Cut if off! I grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting from the bottom. As I got closer to my face, I pulled the sweater away from my skin so the scissors wouldn’t touch me. Then I reached the top and snipped the last thread. I put down the scissors and pulled the sides of the sweater away from my body and it slipped to the floor. Relief! I still had plenty of work to do. My arms needed a lot of sanitizing, but that was better than entire body sanitizing.
Lesson learned from this? When doing dirty chores, always wear a button-up shirt. If things go bad, it’s much easier to get off, and it might not have to be thrown away.