A job interview is nerve-wracking by nature. As with most things, being a germophobe amplifies that by a thousand. Throw in an X-ray machine and the anxiety goes off the charts.
I was walking to my interview with the usual concerns, such as answering questions in an intelligent manner and not looking nervous. As I approached the building, I had no idea how complicated the situation was about to become. Security was an issue at this building, and I walked through the front door to the sight of a metal detector. Walking through the detector was simple enough, but I was asked to put my purse through an X-ray machine. I had never done this before, so I didn’t realize how it was going to complicate matters. I didn’t know that it was actually a Death-ray machine, the killer of all things clean.
The problem with the machine, of course, was that countless other purses and bags had been through it before mine. And not only did the purse sit on the conveyor belt, the flaps brushed over the entire bag as it moved in and out of the machine. This meant that even the contents of my purse were being contaminated. Why? Because it was a small, free-standing, rigid bag that was open at the top. This is the type of bag that works well for me in most daily circumstances, but not this one. The flaps brushed over my bag and dangled briefly inside, just enough to do the damage.
Consequently, on top of having jittery nerves from the impending interview, I had a dirty hand from touching contaminated purse handles. And, to top it off, the inside of my bag was dirty, at least the upper portion. Fortunately, I had arrived a few minutes early, and I spent most of that time going over my purse and hands with a gel sanitizer. This was before I discovered how much more convenient quick-drying, non-sticky alcohol is. I finished just moments before being ushered into the interview room.
But this was not an isolated event. I accepted the job offer, and that machine became my daily nightmare. When I took the job, I thought employees wouldn’t have to put their bags through it, but I was wrong. The first few minutes of every work day were spent keeping the hand gel company in the black. Necessity required me to find another way to deal with this. If I put my purse on its side, then the machine’s flaps couldn’t get inside. That was a huge help, but the handles were still contaminated. The handles were semi-rigid, but that meant that they were also somewhat flexible. It occurred to me that I might be able to push the handles down inside the purse. They did go in, but not without a struggle. With practice, I figured out how to lodge them inside and keep them fairly secure.
So, I developed a daily routine that allowed me to cope with this situation. When I drew close to the building entrance each day, I stopped and placed my purse on the edge of a planter. There I would shove the handles as far as they would go inside the purse. I checked the handles to make sure they wouldn’t pop back out, then I carried it into the building by clutching a zippered pocket inside. I walked inside with my right hand completely enveloped by the purse and then placed it on its side on the conveyor belt. The security guards were trained to look for suspicious people, and I wondered what they thought about my curious behavior. When it emerged on the other side, I again shoved my hand inside, and as I walked into the office, I pulled the handles out. My hands and the handles still received a once-over with the sanitizer gel for good measure, but I felt confident that they were reasonably clean.
After dealing with that for two years, it was such a relief to move to a different office with no X-ray machine. I have enough to handle each day without that.