Do you ever feel like everyone is looking at you as you walk through a crowd? Do they perhaps see something odd in the way you walk or the way you are holding a package? Welcome to my world. Maybe people aren’t looking. The goal, naturally, is to blend in as much as possible, but this is no easy task.
Take, for instance, what happened yesterday. I needed to return a book to the college bookstore. They listed the wrong book for a class, and I was taking it back for a refund. Sounds simple. Oh, but I dropped my receipt on the floor. My feelings about the floor are not a secret. I call it the “deplorable” floor. Things were now a lot more complicated.
I reassured myself that all would be okay. At least it was cold out, so I could wear my cotton gloves. I put on the gloves right before stepping out of the car; that was just the beginning of the process, though. The dirty receipt was on the car seat; the book was in the trunk. Since I had no choice but to hold the receipt with one glove, I also had to hold the book in the same hand. The other gloved hand had to remain clean to hold my purse.
I had to get the book out of the trunk first. I put a plastic bag over one glove to open the trunk. I started to grab the book, and then another wrench was thrown into the process. I bumped my left glove against the side of the trunk, at least I’m pretty sure that I did. It doesn’t matter if I did or not; it looked like I did, so I might as well have. Now my left glove was dirty and I had to carry the book and receipt in that hand. I usually carry dirty objects in my right hand by default so that I don’t get confused and in case I have to sign anything at the store.
Now I really had to focus. I carried my purse in my right hand and the book and receipt in the left. It took about three minutes to trek to the store, and it was a twenty minute wait in line inside the store. Holding a heavy college textbook for that long in one hand and out far enough that it doesn’t touch your body is actually painful, but with OCD you do what you have to. I was so relieved when I finally made it up to the counter, and then what I was hoping wouldn’t happen, did. To get a refund I had to, not just sign, but fill out a form. My left glove was already dirty, and I am right-handed, so this was bad.
So, there I was with two contaminated gloved hands, and I had to carry my purse out. There was one time in a similar situation that I did grab my purse handles, but then I had to go through an elaborate cleaning process when I got back to my car. I did not want to repeat that, so I decided that I would rather risk looking peculiar. I know I have looked peculiar many times before, like the times when I carried my purse with one hand on each side so that I wouldn’t have to touch the handles, or the times I held it with the bottom in the palms of my hands. Talk about getting some looks. One thing made this time slightly better – I had a refund receipt to hold in one hand. It looked a little awkward, but I acted like I was holding my purse up with one hand so I that I could use a couple of fingers to straighten out the receipt while I was intently perusing it. I kept this up the entire three minutes back to the car.
Germophobes can become fairly good actors so as not to stand out from the crowd, or when acting like a situation doesn’t bother them. Sometimes you just have to fake it.