A juicy, delectable peach is the quintessential summer fruit. What a wonderful treat to take to the office for lunchtime. Little did I know that my summer peach would become fallen fruit.
My OCD rituals and routines are critical to having a smooth, relatively incident-free day. Any distraction threatens to disrupt my concentration and cause a germophobe calamity. The morning this week that I was carrying my piece of fruit into the office, I thought that I was holding it carefully in the correct position; it was properly wrapped, but I did not anticipate what was about to occur. It didn’t seem like a major distraction, but it doesn’t take much for me to lose focus. Another employee was walking in at the same time, and I turned my head to say hello. No sooner did I do that than the peach was on the ground. The “ground” sounds so harmless, but this was not simply the ground. This was a busy parking lot that sees hundreds of visitors a day, both human and animal, and it was home to all sorts of vileness. The evidence was there in the form of multi-colored spots and spills and unidentifiable garbage scattered about. I’m not saying that it was worse than most parking lots that get that much traffic, but that doesn’t make it any better. And there in the middle of it sat my fruit.
At first, I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I heard the thud as the peach hit the ground, but I still had something in my hand. Even when I looked at the peach, for a moment I thought it had come from somewhere else. Then I looked at my hand and felt the empty baggie in it and realized that my fail-safe double-bagging had, indeed, failed. The inner baggie had slipped right out of the outer baggie.
Had I been alone, I would have given serious consideration to abandoning the peach right there, but it had rolled right in front of my co-worker. At risk of appearing more peculiar than usual, I bent down and picked it up. It’s funny how we germophobes can put on an indifferent face when we have to. My co-worker had no idea how distressed I was at having parking lot germs on my hand. She likely thought that I was listening to her as we walked the rest of the way in, but all I could think of was what to do next.
When I reached my cubicle, I put the peach up on my designated dirty shelf. I looked at it longingly, wondering if it had been exposed to the parking lot filth or if the remaining baggie had protected if sufficiently. But it would have to wait until I took care of my hand.
Once again, it was time to rely on my rituals to get through the crisis. I began spraying the contaminated hand with alcohol. I knew I would have to do this at least eight times. As I was spraying and wiping with napkins, I continued to think about how filthy the parking lot was. However my hands get dirty, usually doing the required amount of sprays will fulfill my compulsion and I can get on with my day. But I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a real washing with soap and hot water. Yes, I would do it. After I completed the sprays, I still used only my clean hand, and I folded up two napkins into squares. I tucked one under my collar and took the other, along with a sliver of goat milk soap that I keep at my desk, and trekked off to the sink in the break room. I refuse to use the bathroom sink and soap because the soap dispenser is so low to the counter it is impossible not to touch your hand to either the counter or the dispenser itself. Not only that, the faucets are automatic, which sounds like a good thing as there is nothing to touch, but it is also unpredictable and not easy to control. Hence, I opt to use a sink with a lever, a steady stream, and plenty of heat. And it felt so nice to have truly clean hands when I was done washing. I used the napkin under my collar to shut off the water.
There was one last task to do. When my lunch break came, I hoped that no one could see as I put on a pair of vinyl gloves and held the bagged peach up in the air. I had to hold it up where the light hit it at an angle that would show up any holes in the baggie. If I had seen anything that remotely resembled a hole or even a nick, the whole thing would have been thrown out. I checked once, twice, thrice. No holes. That was next to miraculous. I still felt uneasy, considering where it had been, but I rolled the peach out of the baggie onto a clean napkin, and I finally got to enjoy its sweetness.