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.