Germ warfare

These days I catch the tube every morning. Two in fact (though only one in the evening as I take a different journey home). Whilst the tube is a lot more efficient than most Londoners give it credit for – I still think of it as quite a dirty way to travel. I will absolutely dread a hot summer as it will mean I’ll get to work sticky and I don’t like that feeling at all, especially in full work garb (though no longer having to wear suits means it shouldn’t be quite so bad).

Thing about the tube (like the grime-encrusted Dickensian city itself) is that it is – perhaps in no small part due to its ancient and subterranean nature – a rather dirty affair. Sure, the tubes are cleaned all the time, but such a huge number of people using them each day, I worry about the kinds of people whose hands have held the bars that I must then hold. When did they last wash their hands, what is their level of personal hygiene, etc.

One’s never really thought of oneself as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) but as a matter of course – I always wash my hands as soon as I get to work (annoyingly, with Fairy Liquid as they don’t provide soap in the kitchens though I have suggested they should). Doubt I’m the only one that does this.

In one of the first London flats I ever lived in – in a rough part of the city – there was a disused Chinese next door. And we had cockroaches in the flat. Was awful. Real low point of my 10 years in this city (for more reasons than that; I’d moved in with a real bastard of a guy who I went off as soon as I’d moved in).

I know germs and bacteria exist everywhere. That’s fine. I don’t mind germs from friends or colleagues quite so much. It’s just, like every big city, there are some really grim and squalid people in this one from all parts of the world and some do use the tube and psychologically I need some sense of purification and dissociation from that.

Perhaps you’re the same, or maybe you have other OCD inclinations.

6 thoughts on “Germ warfare

  1. I remember meeting with the former police chief of our city; as we closed the meeting, he walked over to his cabinet and got out a small box with his own bar of soap. You are most certainly not alone and I can only suggest that you do this. Fairy liquid is not so good for your hands…
    I obsess about public toilets ever since trekking around Morocco. Having a child has tested this fear, to the very limits.

  2. I find it best not to think about these things, otherwise I’d probably end up fighting panic every time I needed to travel.
    The tube here is fairly disgusting, like the way the stale air hits you the moment you’re about half way down the escalators. I like the tube in Brasilia – much more spacious and the stations have huge vents that you can see the sky from.

  3. I’ve just recovered from a three-week cold after some cracking antibiotics killed everything off. I was the first person I know to catch it which means some swine somewhere in Sydney gave it to me, probably from the train or something like it. I have alcohol-based anti-bacterial stuff at work and am always using it. And woe betide anyone who touched my keyboard. Despite this paranoia, I’m with Vic; tale precautions and forget about it.

  4. Love the new layout, M.
    As for bugs, my particular moan is always about toilets that have a main door that opens inwards so that you have to grab a handle to leave. We know that many people don’t bother to wash their hands so even if you have, you then grab a door handle covered in nasties.
    Seems a simple standard to me to have all toilet doors opening outwards so you can shove them open with any unexposed part of your body.
    If the place has paper towels for hand drying, I grab a sheet to use on the door handle and once opened, I toss the sheet back into the bin. Considering where I am, I don’t think that’s being OCD.

  5. I don’t think I’m obsessive about germs at all but I too would avoid touching the toilet door handle going out. And my only Germ Obsession is when women put their handbags on the toilet floor – – and then on the restaurant table – – ewwwwwww nooooooo.

  6. Lula – yeh, public toilets aren’t nice. And trekking around the 3rd world is the worst for sure! Have done it myself.

    Vic – yeh, the stale air is grim isn’t it? That horrid smell and steamed up windows sometimes. You get it on trains too. Oh, Brasilia sounds nice!

    Sven – I am very lucky indeed with colds. It’s been a year since I last had one. I haven’t been properly ‘ill’ (that wasn’t alcohol induced) in as many years as I can remember. Sheridan, on the other hand, frequently comes down with coughs, colds, sore throats, etc. Guess we’re all built slightly differently.

    SB – thanks! Ugh I hate toilets and those sound the worst. In France they had those ‘hole in the floor’ toilets. You’d really think in 21st century Europe they wouldn’t still have those, wouldn’t you?? LOL at your last comment (though I wasn’t sure whether you meant Leeds or Florida!)

    Daphne – Sheridan is like that with carrier bags of food shopping. If you put a carrier bag on the sideboard in his kitchen all hell breaks lose. I remember living in Japan where one didn’t wear shoes in the home – they were left in the alcove area at the door. Such a vastly cleaner / nicer / better way to live. I wish we did that here. I do to an extent but the flat is so small I always take my shoes off when I get home anyway.

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