I pride myself on being a quiet person and minding my own business – most of the time. But even the best of virtues can be foiled by OCD.
I have a drawer at my desk at work where I keep some germophobe supplies. I have some extra vinyl gloves and plastic sandwich baggies in there, and it’s also where I keep the box of plastic wrap that I use to cover my keyboard every day before leaving the office. There are some non-germophobe items in it, too. I have some books and papers in there, and a box of foil. I like to heat up my lunch in the toaster oven rather than in the microwave, and I wrap my food in the foil.
A few days ago, I was almost ready to leave the office, and I had just placed the plastic wrap over my keyboard. I put the box back in the drawer, but the drawer has become a bit overcrowded lately. When I went to close the drawer, one corner of the box of foil hit the outside of the desk. That was bad, because it’s the bottom drawer, so it’s low, where feet tread. And I use my shoe to open and close the drawer. I don’t use the handle; I pry it open at the edge with the corner of my shoe. So hitting the outside of the desk drawer was bad news, but it was time to leave. I suppose I should have taken out the box and placed it on some napkins, but I adjusted it down in the drawer so that the contaminated surface wasn’t touching anything.
The following day at lunchtime, I opened the drawer to get out the foil, and I remembered the dirty corner. I got it out, held the box in the center, and pulled off a piece of foil. I almost put the box back in the drawer, but I thought about what a pain it was going to be to try to keep it from contaminating other parts of the drawer or my hand (if I had a memory lapse). If the foil had been almost gone, I would have put up with it, but the box felt heavy. It was going to be around for a while. Then I remembered that, in the distant past, I had pulled all of the foil out of a box, presumably because it had been contaminated. That’s what I needed to do this time.
I waited until the lunch hour so that most people would be out of the office, but I’m fairly certain I could hear one person close by moving around at her desk. But it had to be done. I started tearing off pieces of foil. I tore them off in just the right size to wrap up some food for a lunch. I tore, and I tore, and I tore. I was a bit self-conscious, and I worried that someone would complain. But no one did. I made it to the end and threw out the offending box. Next came the task of folding up each piece so that they would take up less space and would be easy to grab. I counted as I went along. Fifty-seven pieces! I would have had that box well over a year! I made the correct decision.
Yet another way OCD affects us: It makes us act out of character. I naturally do not like to make noise and draw attention to myself. But what must be done must be done, for a germophobe.