I have read that people with OCD are prone to holding grudges. That makes sense. It’s obsessive behavior: We can’t let go of a feeling. I struggle against this tendency, but the janitor at the office where I work is making it difficult.
The poor, innocent janitor. What did he ever do to me? He has done plenty! But it’s not intentional, so how can I hold a grudge against him? His intrusions into my cubicle to “clean” it have caused me many hours of agitated disinfecting. When I see him or see what he has done, I feel resentful towards him. I try to put on a pleasant face anyway, but it takes effort. And as I left on Wednesday, he put my resolve to the test.
I’m one of the last ones out of the office on most days. Often, the supervisors will start turning out the lights in an attempt to get us stragglers moving along. So it happened that day, and I hurriedly gathered my belongings to leave before total darkness enveloped the building. I saw the janitor a few feet away as I rounded the corner. Smiling may have been my mistake. I made it halfway down the hall when he called out to me. He needed the lights on in the area he was working, and he asked if I would flip the lights back on. I’ve worked in that building for several years, and not once have I thought about the light switches. I am neither the first one in the building nor the last one out, so I’ve never had a need to think about them. Now I was giving much thought to them. The janitor does most of his work after hours, so he touches the switches every day! They are horribly filthy. And now I was being asked to touch them.
When someone asks me to do something out of my comfort zone, I deploy the stalling technique. I acted as though I hadn’t heard him clearly, hoping to think quickly of a way out of it. But I was blank. I was close to the switches, so I didn’t have an excuse. To keep the contamination at a minimum, I used only my last two fingers. I didn’t know that that was a bad choice. The switches were stiff, and I had difficulty getting them to move. That easily could have caused my fingers to slip and my hand to hit the switch panel or the wall, but I am grateful that they didn’t. But I did have to walk out to my car with my dirty fingers extended outward so that they wouldn’t touch anything clean. And I had to take out my packet of wet wipes and clean my fingers multiple times. This delayed my commute home. This was not helping my perpetual grudge against the janitor.
Also doing nothing to foster a good working relationship between us was the janitor’s recent cubicle intrusion. I move the trash can out from under my desk at the end of each day (with my shoes). But on this occasion, he came through the office a few minutes early when I was away from my desk. He moved my chair, and likely brushed against my keyboard and touched my desktop in the process. It was a sickening feeling when I walked back into my cubicle and saw what had taken place. A major cleanup ensued, which began that day (shortly before leaving the office) and continued the next morning.
Next time the janitor calls out to me, I’m going to pretend that I don’t hear him at all. I’m going to walk faster!