I used to joke that my hands were twenty years older than the rest of me because I washed them so often. Now I think they’re more like fifty years older.
Apart from the usual handwashing rituals following ‘comfort breaks’ or ‘bathroom visits’ (quaint expressions, eh?) I’ve always washed my hands after handling animals, including small children. Working with young humans sharpens one’s observational acuity and it’s hard to avoid noticing where their fingers are going and what they’re doing. You can’t see dirt, right? Well, obviously, sometimes you can but you know what I mean.
I wash my hands before preparing food and again afterwards. I wash my hands after blowing my nose (I wish doctors would!) and I’m doing a lot of that now since Barry kindly shared his cold with me. After I’ve loaded washing in the washing machine or filled the dishwasher I wash my hands. Just put out the rubbish? Wash your hands! If I handle money (filthy lucre!) time to wash. Travelling on public transport or opening doors to public buildings – shops, for example – causes an outbreak of hand-washing. Naturally I can’t always access soap and water so I carry hand wipes for those occasions. Sometimes I avoid the problem by using my elbows.
In the last couple of months I’ve developed a worrying habit. Since we do most of our shopping online we have a lot of deliveries. When I go to the door to accept the parcel, frequently I’m asked to ‘sign for it’. This makes me think I should be performing some elaborate ritual mimicry involving fingers in unusual combinations but actually involves grasping a pen attached to a clipboard or more usually a miniature screen display and scrawling an unintelligible signature. Then I have to wash my hands. I know it’s illogical but I can’t stop myself.
When I was teaching I used to encourage the children to wash their hands at appropriate intervals. Then I would remind them to ‘wash the soap.’ Some of them understood immediately the reason for that – maybe their mothers had the same rule. The rest looked incredulous but obeyed anyway. (Oh, the power!)
What foibles or compulsions do you have and are you willing to share them?