The first I ever heard of a germaphobe was when watching reruns of the old TV series, Monk. The quirky character, a private investigator and police consultant, was an obsessive compulsive who was terrified of getting sick. He wouldn’t touch anything without gloves and drove everyone around him crazy. I looked up the word and found that it means an obsession with sanitation and keeping clean, which includes the environment. Although the gentle detective worked the filthy San Francisco streets, he managed to avoid contamination. By scrubbing is hands after shaking hands with anyone, he felt in control. Monk triumphs in spite of his condition and solves crime after crime.
I see a lot of myself in this gumshoe. While I don’t have the rituals of washing and cleaning constantly, I do have one bugaboo. I don’t like to use any toilet except my own. It is not that it is unique – just a run-of-the mill model, but I keep it scrupulously clean. I often spend hours maintaining it and I Rate My Toilet as the cleanest one I’ve ever seen. On that note, I will use no other facility. This means no travel and staying close to home. Fortunately, I work in the vicinity and my gym is around the corner. It has a full-size basketball court so you will find me there most nights, even for a quick game after work. As you know, this sport can get competitive and intense. I love to work off all the day’s anxiety. Plus, it is a great social occasion as I see my buddies and it keeps me in shape and at the right weight for my height. I take a shower before I leave. You might think this is odd for a germaphobe, but somehow I believe they are sufficiently clean. I will wait until I walk in my front door before I think about heading to the bathroom.
Yes, it can be an inconvenience. I don’t drink much water during breaks in the game as a result. This poses a problem for the times when I am pouring sweat. I imbibe a bottle or two after the game as I change my clothes. One day I almost didn’t make it home. I was walking at a fast pace, my usual gait, but when I reached the corner, I heard sirens and noticed that the walkway was blocked. There had been an armed robbery and no one was allowed to pass. We were signaled to halt our progress by a couple of beat officers. I was asked to move aside until the detective on the case could question me. I stared blankly into space, afraid to mention that I needed to relieve myself ASAP. Finally, I blurted it out and an officer pushed me into a doorway of a café. How could I explain to him that I couldn’t use the toilet?
“It’s new,” he muttered. “I’ve used it.”
“I don’t care,” I said.
“Don’t kid around. We have a situation here,” he said with irritation.
“Do you remember Monk?” I asked. “Need I say more?”