It has been many years since I read The Pickwick Papers, but I recall that one of my favorite scenes from the book was a character – perhaps Mr. Pickwick himself – running after a hat that was rolling away in the wind. I myself have chased paper money that has been caught up by the wind, but it didn’t seem quite as fun. My latest running episode I would also not classify as fun, but it might appear amusing to an observer.
In all fairness, I didn’t actually run because there wasn’t enough space to run, as you’ll see. The roll that is the subject of this account was the cardboard tube in a roll of paper towels. Regular readers know that I have large plastic boxes in the trunk of my car to hold groceries and to store miscellaneous items. On the evening of this account, I was taking some of the items from the trunk into the house, and I spotted the empty paper towel tube. The tube came from a relatively clean box in the trunk, but it didn’t need to stay clean because it was going into the recycling bin. I barely had the paper towel roll in my hand when I decided that there was something else from the trunk that I wanted to take into the house, but I needed to put the tube down in order to be able to use both hands. When I made this decision, I had stopped by the passenger-side door. What easier place to put the roll than the roof of the car?
And here is where the Germophobe’s Law takes effect. (To the uninitiated, this is referred to as Murphy’s Law.) I thought that the top of the car would be a perfectly safe spot for the tube because it has a sun roof. I put the tube directly on the sun roof with the assurance that the rim of the sun roof would hold it in place. Not two seconds after I let go of it, the tube began to move. The problem was, I couldn’t touch it because it was now on the car, the outside of which I long ago categorized as unclean. The roll was on the move, so I didn’t have time to grab a baggie or do anything but watch. The Germophobe’s Law meant that the tube didn’t go in the direction of the hood, which would have mattered not one iota, but it started moving toward the trunk, which was open.
I need not tell you the anxiety I experienced in those three seconds. And as it seemed like it happened in slow motion, I almost felt as if I were running alongside the car in slow motion, following it so that I would know its exact path. I hoped in vain that it might drop in between the boxes and land in the trunk itself. Yes, I moved along the car with it and watched as it rolled down the back window and dropped into one of the boxes in the trunk.
There was no way for this to be anything but negative. Though I saw the roll drop into the box, there may have been a bit of bouncing before it settled in a corner. So I had my work cut out for me. I not only had to remove the tube but anything that it may have touched. The items it touched had to be thrown away, cleaned, or placed in contamination limbo. The end. If only! Then the box had to be sprayed many times over several hours to be purged of the germs. We germophobes need to adopt a new law!