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Out of the Club

Being part of a club is nice.  It fosters a sense of belonging that is important to a person with OCD since we feel different and isolated in many ways.  So I was excited when a few people in my office decided to form a “cappuccino club.”

I don’t follow trends much, but the lure of cappuccino was as strong as its aroma.  I wasn’t a coffee connoisseur, but it sounded like fun experimenting with flavored syrups and the like.  We had a crash course in brewing by an experienced co-worker, and some members of the group ordered custom mugs.  All was well for a couple of months, and I was enjoying my new discovery, then “it” happened.

I was in the break room at the same time another club member was brewing her cup.  When she finished, she took the metal filter with the grounds to the garbage can and turned it upside down.  She started shaking the filter, and it slipped out of her grasp and landed in the can.  The garbage can was fairly full, so the filter sat there right on top – for about one second.  My co-worker reached for it without the slightest hesitation.  It is true that she took it to the sink and washed it off, but that is not enough for a germophobe.  I was out.  No more cappuccino for me.  The money I donated for the machine – gone.  No more club.

It never ceases to astound me how something as offensive as garbage does not cause a person to recoil.  If I had dropped the filter in the can, I at least would have paused to consider the best course of action.  Then I would have used a baggie to pull it out, rinse it off, and place it in the dishwasher where it could be sanitized. (Yes, we have an automatic dishwasher in the office.)

For all of those readers who don’t understand what is so horrible about pulling something out of the trash (because I assume that some of you are relatives or friends trying to understand your loved ones), consider the chain.  Perhaps you are thinking that you were just eating part of that food that was tossed in the trash, or you wiped your face with that paper towel, so how could the garbage possibly be that dirty?  What happens when the can is full?  The bag must be taken out to the large receptacle (or toter, if that term is used in your area) to wait for the weekly pick up.  Have you taken a good look at the filth covering those garbage trucks, not to mention the smell?  The trucks contaminate the receptacles (toters), the receptacles contaminate the house trash can (you can’t touch one without touching the other), hence, there is no way for the house trash can not to be filthy.  Pulling something out of the kitchen trash is tantamount to pulling it out of the garbage truck.  But then there are people who have no qualms doing that.

You must consider the chain of contamination.

About admin

I am a female in my early 40's who has been dealing with OCD since age 10 and a fear of germs since 14.
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One Response to Out of the Club

  1. Eli says:

    You lost the money you contributed toward the cappuccino equipment, but overall it’s probably a good move to leave the club. Co-workers are frequently nasty, even when you don’t actually see their bad habits. I have some who put their feet on their desk, some who put documents on the floor, and two who do both. At all-employees meetings, people put their documents, coffee cups and keys on the floor under their seats, retrieve the items, put them back again, etc. Some people fidget with their shoes. It’s a bad thing when the meeting organizers pass around a sign-in sheet, a stack of handouts or some object for people to examine, and you see this item that many people have been touching coming down the row toward you. It’s leave the meeting at that point (and maybe come back later), decline to touch the item, or touch it and feel unclean.

    You’ve discussed before how dirty the floor is, but most people don’t realize it. Even if they bathe or shower, people are walking around all day with skin flakes, dried fecal dust, and body hairs falling down their pants legs or skirts. It’s documented that city air has significant levels of particulates, including dust from dried dog droppings; that filth (plus microbes and bodily fluid droplets from people sneezing and coughing) settles on all surfaces, but table tops and desk tops can be more easily sanitized.

    Basically, almost everyone has disgusting habits, but maybe it’s better not to actually witness them. In the past week, my boss (1) dropped a sheet of paper on the floor while talking to me; he picked it up and held it against his shirt while crumpling it before tossing it in the waste basket, (2) dropped a pen on the floor and then picked it up, and (3) was in the restroom where I noticed the tip of his belt was touching the floor. Yesterday, he brought me some documents to look at; I usually have him put the stuff into a folder (where I let them stay for a day or more, while the germs die off), but this time he placed them on my side table before I could get the quarantine folder out. I’m going to toss them out, wipe off the table, and print the documents out again (fortunately, the files were attached to an email from another co-worker).

    Recently, a friend who is aware of my germophobia bought me a UV light sanitizer, a handheld device that puts out UV light to kill microbes on surfaces that you wave the device over. The box says, “Same Technology Used in Hospitals!” and “Eliminates up to 99% of Germs on Most Surfaces in Seconds!”, but I haven’t used it yet because the box also says, “This product emits ultraviolet light which can be dangerous to eyes and skin.” It costs about $40 (it says 39.99 on the box, but maybe my friend found a deal). If my boss keeps slipping documents onto my desk or table, I may have to start using it soon (while wearing protective gloves and sunglasses). In an earlier post, you said that you had previously used an iron to kill germs on documents; this may be a better option.

    Even though you’re no longer in the cappuccino club, you’re a longtime member of the OCD germophobe club, and we’re glad to have you and your great blog.

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