Small Snippets: A Germaphobe On Pandemic Precautions

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There have been some really great things to have come out of the pandemic. 

Tiger King. I feel like that should just be a sentence in itself. Tiger King. Regé-Jean Page from Bridgerton. So many Taylor Swift songs. So. Many. (Insert the collective clapping and crying of 30-year-old millenial women.) We have all collectively Marie Kondo-“ed” our homes. Turns out none of our old junk sparks joy, so we have also collectively purchased so much new junk that Jeff Bezos got to go to space.

One of the bigger wins for me has been everyone’s regular use of hand sanitizer. As a germaphobe, this is a big, big win for me. My husband and I both come from healthcare families so even before the pandemic we had giant bottles of hand sanitizer strategically placed around our house. I actually used to make fun of him for buying it in bulk until there was a shortage and I realized he really is as brilliant as he is constantly telling me he is. I keep it on my desk and attached to any bag I am carrying and use it regularly enough that I have to remind myself not to over-sanitize for fear of creating a superbug. 

I can’t even express how excited I am that the general public is also, now, cleaning their hands throughout the day, because hands are disgusting. People don’t wash their hands after they use the restroom, pick their teeth, touch their feet–seriously, they touch their feet–and then they touch you and the things around you. To a germaphobe, it’s nauseating. COVID-19 gave us all a valid excuse to sanitize our hands, after contact with other people, without seeming rude. It’s just a routine precaution, not because we think other human beings have questionable hygiene habits.

Another plus has been the methodical wiping down of publicly used spaces. The obsessive compulsive perfectionist in me intermingles with the germaphobe and is ecstatically excited about this one. I love for things to be clean and organized. The cleaner the better. I actually enjoy the smell of a strong disinfectant and I have just enough OCD that if I am at your house I will 100 percent categorize your bookshelf by theme and authors who would obviously like to be next to one another. For example, Tolkien and Lewis belong next to each other, even if one title falls into the realm of fantasy and the other is apologetic, because the Inklings belong together. Then I’ll start wiping down the books you haven’t dusted in months (let’s face it, they are pretty grimy, it’s probably been years since you slid them out of their carelessly assigned places. Naturally, I’ll move on to clean the shelves they are sitting on, and the space around the shelves and so forth until I have methodically moved throughout the entire house mindlessly tidying up. It’s not you; it’s me.  Nonetheless, I am really enjoying that publicly used spaces are cleaner than they have probably ever been.

I also have to admit that I don’t mind wearing a mask. It can be a little irritating, but all in all, I’m actually kind of a fan of the idea. My family (collectively) got sick one time last year, which is pretty remarkable considering we have elementary school age children. Anyone with young children can attest to the fact that they are basically germ magnets, constantly infecting everyone around them with the colds they regularly pick up. The germaphobe in me would point out it’s because the adorable little humans have poor hygiene habits and lick stuff. They lick a lot of stuff. All of them. Why did they not get the flu, or even common colds? Because everyone was masked and kept their germs to themselves.

I’ve been pretty lax about wearing my mask over the summer months. Because most of our family members work in healthcare fields, Corey and I were some of the last members (besides the kiddos) to receive our vaccinations, so by the time we were fully vaccinated they had been for months. When the CDC temporarily stated that those vaccinated could forgo masks we felt pretty comfortable doing so, but as school starts back up and the flu season slowly approaches I definitely am going to start wearing my mask in public spaces again. 

I’m going to be honest: it’s not even because I am overly worried about contracting COVID-19, it’s because I don’t want to be sick period. I like that when I hear someone non-stop hacking an aisle over, in a grocery store, I have a barrier between the air I’m breathing in and whatever they are spreading. I also like that if I don’t feel well, I can slip on a mask and not have to war between feeling guilty about missing work versus feeling guilty about potentially getting everyone around me sick. I even like that there is a collectively generated excuse when I wear a mask. I’m a sheep, with no critical thinking abilities–not a neurotic jerk, who thinks other people are full or germs. Even the presumed ineptness blanketed into the term sheep feels warm and cozy for me. I’m a woman, and a minority, who did not grow up in the current collective-consciousness that diversity matters, so I spent the entirety of my school years being underestimated. If I had a dollar for every time an adult said, “Oh, you are one of the smart ones,” with a smile and pat on my head, I could pay off my student loan debts and my friends’ as well. 

So, the sheep terminology really feels like stumbling across an old blanket that I outgrew and semi-forgot about–tattered with the musty smell of antiquation but cozily familiar nonetheless. 

Even if everyone in the world gets vaccinated and we can give up the precautionary practice, I’m not giving up wearing masks. In fact you can bury me with one. And when I think about that many people leaning over my face...please do.  

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