Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I stood there staring at the shirt.  Was I going to let this thing cause me to be late for work, or should I put it on and go?  On the surface, the decision of what to wear to work is quite common.  But there is little about a germophobe that is commonplace.

To keep a shirt free from wrinkles, I hang it on a hook on the wall.  I wish it were that simple, but I live in a house that is rented.  Although the walls looked freshly painted when I moved in, I don’t know who or what touched the walls after that.  Hence, the walls are dirty to me, and I never touch them directly.  So I can’t simply hang my shirt on a hook and forget about it; there must be a barrier between my shirt and the wall.  My solution?  I first put a larger shirt on a hanger on the hook to cover as much area as possible, then I hang up the shirt I intend to wear the next day.  This arrangement has worked very well.  The only problem is, sometime ago, I switched the larger shirt that serves as a barrier.  This seemed fine until recently, when I went to grab the shirt I planned on wearing.  As I reached for the hanger, I noticed that the collar of the shirt was touching the dirty wall!  The new barrier shirt did not have a collar, as did the old one, and therefore, it did not protect the other shirt’s collar from contamination.

The collar was now contaminated, and this created a pressing dilemma.  If I put on the shirt, the collar would contaminate my neck and hair.  I looked at the clock, and I had to leave the house in five minutes in order to make it to work on time.  I already had on the pants I intended to wear, but did I have another shirt that would match them?  I ran to the closet, but I knew there wouldn’t be much to choose from.  It was Friday, and I had washed only what I needed for the week plus a couple of extras in case of emergency.  When I think of an emergency, I think of a shirt slipping out of my hands onto the floor; I hadn’t anticipated this.  I had two spare shirts to choose from and only one matched my pants.  This seemed good, but the shirt was wrinkled, and I didn’t have time to steam out the wrinkles.  I went back to look at the contaminated shirt.  Maybe I could spray the collar with alcohol and then I could wear it.  But spraying it once wouldn’t be enough, and I didn’t have time to go through several spraying cycles.  Another minute ticked by.  I reasoned on it some more.  If I sprayed the collar once, I could put on the shirt and then continue to spray it while wearing it.  but that would take a long time, as I would have to wait for it to dry between each spray-down, and I knew from experience that I would be setting myself up for a cross-contamination snowball:  the collar would touch my hair; my hair would touch the seat of my car; I would touch my hair in a moment of absentmindedness and spread germs to my face or the steering wheel; and on and on.  That was a bad scenario.

After taking far too much time in deliberation, I had to make a call.  Which was worse:  the contamination snowball or being late for work?  In true germophobe fashion, I chose the former.  I dropped the dirty shirt on the floor so that I couldn’t change my mind, and I grabbed the wrinkled shirt.  It took three minutes to steam it.  I threw it on, and left the house later than I ever had before.

And then a miracle happened.  Against all odds, the traffic lights were all green, and I didn’t get trapped behind a slow car.  I arrived at work on time!  I definitely had made the correct decision.

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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