Tonight I was “parched” while heading to my Marriage and the Family night class at LSU-S. I noticed that I had a few extra minutes, so I stopped at the Circle K across from the campus to pick up a carbonated beverage.
While standing in line, holding my single item in my hand, I noticed the cashier had a slight problem. She was hocking up a lung, coughing all over the place. The rattle in her throat let me know that she was trying to loosen up the phlegm that lined her esophagus. Disgusting? Yeah.
But she was hocking all of this stuff INTO HER HANDS.
She wasn’t coughing into the elbow of her sleeve. She wasn’t turning her head and keeping in mind that she’s handling various items that her customers are going to be consuming. She simply hacked and weezed into her palms, then proceeded to handle the merchandise. She didn’t even proceed into the obligatory (but useless) hand wipe across the shirt. She didn’t do anything to make her customers more comfortable. She just gagged into her hands.
Then I noticed something that disturbed me even further: when she grabbed the drink belonging to the customer in front of me to wipe across the scanner, she grabbed it by the top half of the bottle. Her palm and fingers wrapped around the neck and the cap of the bottle.
I began to get nervous. I glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed this atrocity. No one seemed to care.
Finally I stepped forward. It was my turn. It felt like a walk up to the gallows. She smiled at me, and gave a little half-cough to the side. I began to break out in a cold, awkward sweat along my hairline; probably not visible to the cashier, but definitely adding to my fears that this moment was going to quickly escalate into a socially awkward moment of epic proportions.
I had to act…
I slid the 20 oz. drink forward…wayyyyy forward, until it “accidentally” swiped across the sensor. The *beep* seemed to alarm the cashier, and so I played right along. “Oh, whoops,” I said. “Sorry about that.”
“Um, no problem,” she muttered back. “Is that all?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I responded politely. I smiled and began to feel victorious. I was almost in the clear, phlegm free!
Then, without asking, she pulls out a bag…and places the beautiful green nectar of the gods into the bag…USING HER PALM AND FINGERS…ON THE TOP HALF OF THE DRINK!”
I was crushed. If only I had grabbed the drink after she rang it up. If only I hadn’t been fumbling with my wallet, trying to pull out two dollar bills, I could have seized the moment and grabbed the drink. I could’ve drawn it close, claiming it as my own. “Staking my territory,” so to speak.
It was over for me.
As I type this (in my Marriage & Family class), I have my Dew beside me. I’m drinking it, but with every sip I wonder if a little phlegm is washing down my throat. Yes, it’s overblown. It’s silly. It’s stupid. But I have a problem.
I don’t like germs. I don’t like drinking after people (it was a stretch for me to drink after Shari until well into our marriage). I don’t mind if someone is “dirty,” I just don’t like spit, saliva, coughing, sneezing, snotting, or anything dealing with the germs of the mouth and the nose.
But it’s not just those things. I like my books to be in order. I don’t like people scratching my DVDs. I don’t like people scratching their own DVDs. I avoid sidewalk cracks like they’re going to send a fatal electric shock through my body.
That’s right. I avoid sidewalk cracks. I even have a routine while on campus. I can take two steps in one block, then one in the neck. Two step block, one step block, two step block, one step block, repeat process. I don’t believe that my mother’s spinal column will be crushed a result of my stepping on a crack, but I don’t like to do it.
But I don’t care if my clothes are on the floor at the side of my bed. I don’t mind the grass getting a bit too tall. I don’t mind that Apple dug a hole in the back yard.
So what is it that determines what I find unbearable and what I let go? Why does the thought of someone coughing into their hand and touching my Mountain Dew bother me to the point that I start to sweat, but swimming in a lake full of catfish feces doesn’t phase me at all?
Is it neurosis, or is it just stupid?