In the world of computer science, there is a rule that is reiterated often. It sounds simplistic, but anyone who has taken a class on the subject has had it drilled into their head – back up, back up, back up. You may learn the complexities of creating an algorithm, but the last step (and possibly some in the middle) is always to backup your work. You hear it throughout every lesson, and the final admonition, without fail, is don’t forget to back up. This is valuable advice for a germophobe.
A germophobe never wants to be caught off guard. A few years ago, after I went on a trip with some friends, I received a call from the person whose car we had taken. She said that I had left a bag in her car, and asked if I wanted to make arrangements to get it. As she lived over an hour’s drive from my house, I had to choose a day and time that would fit both of our schedules, and that was two days out. She asked if I would be inconvenienced by not having the items in the bag. It was a small bag, and she wasn’t sure what was in it. I told her that it contained only some makeup and other toiletries. But wouldn’t I be needing them, she wondered. I reassured her that I would be fine because I always kept backups of important items. And it was true – I had an extra box, bottle, or package of everything that was in that bag.
I have learned the hard way that “emergency” supplies must be kept in strategic places. My spray bottle of rubbing alcohol is always with me. I have one at home, at work, in my car, and in my purse. But sometimes more drastic measures are necessary. If the contamination is severe, then wipes, baggies, or gloves may be required. Hence, it is imperative that emergency gloves and wipes be kept in the car. If I am going to be in a public place away from all of my backup resources, then I have to cram whatever I can into my small purse. I have asked myself, upon leaving the house, “Am I glove-ready?”
Most germophobes are likely to have a stash of similar supplies. Perhaps this sounds familiar to you. But do you have a backup cup? I have kept this emergency cup at work for many years now, and have used it on only a few occasions, but I was ever grateful to have it this week when my usual cup met with a nasty fate.
The sink at the office was dirty (as usual), and I had to use a plastic baggie to move a large bowl out of the way so as to have space to wash my cup without too much risk of splashing. Once it was moved, I started cleaning the cup, but then a co-worker walked in and started talking to me. Blasted distractions! As I turned to glance at my co-worker, I heard a clinking sound. My cup had hit the faucet! This is the faucet I once turned off with my foot. Not only that, it is touched by countless non-washers throughout the day. I stood motionless for a few seconds, but then I had to act quickly because the other person was still there. I turned off the faucet with a napkin and carried the cup back to my desk. I was worried that my hands would become contaminated, but the handle had not hit the faucet, so it was safe to touch. I placed the dirty cup on a napkin on a shelf, and later I was able to carry it out to my car by holding only the handle. At the car, it was placed on the floor, later to be taken home and run through the dishwasher.
But most important, I had my backup cup, so I did not have to go without my tea for the remainder of the day. Anything essential needs to have a backup. This proved true yet again recently. I was walking out of the office with two co-workers at five o’clock, when my car key slipped from my fingers and fell to the ground. I was thankful that they walked on because they wanted to go home; otherwise, I likely would have had to pick up the dirty key with my fingers. As I did not have any observers, I bent down, pulled a baggie out of my purse, turned it inside out, and picked up the key with it. I was able to pull the baggie around it and place it safely inside my purse. If I had not been prepared, though, I would have had to do an extensive sanitization of the key before being able to use it to start the car. As it was, I took out my backup key and arrived home at the usual time. I was then able to clean the dirty key at my leisure.
To prevent a disaster from happening, the advice has come through for me many times – don’t forget to back up.