I came from a family where both my parents were microbiologists--so they understood germs. My Dad in particular is a huge germaphobe and a bit of a hypochondriac (you know it's true Dad). We were threatened with diseases if we ever touched our lips to a public drinking fountain. He brought along what we called wash n' drys everywhere we went in case we needed to clean our hands (I think this was his solution before the days of hand sanitizer). I learned to loath public toilets and touching the floor in any manner.
Much of this is still in my system. I am always telling the girls to stay off the floor in stores and not touch the bottom of their shoes. I bring hand sanitizer everywhere and often lather it on common objects such as grocery cart handles. But I have loosened up a bit. For instance, I often utilize the ten second rule, but only in my own kitchen where I KNOW what has been on the floor.
The phobia rears its ugly head at odd moments such as the other day when June came running inside. She had just gotten off the bus and she was very animated, "Mom, I found that thing we were looking for." And she holds up this:
If you can't tell what that is, it is a feather; a rather nasty feather. I am sure she just found it on the ground, but in my head I can picture her plucking it off a dead bird. In my household, you never touched dead animals (I guess this seems obvious to many people) but my Dad would strictly warn us away from birds and the like (even the alive ones). They are 'germ carriers' he would voice. Oh...another 'germ carrier' would be the fly. Growing up, you were taking your life in your hands if you ate something a fly had landed on. But back to the story:
June picked up the feather because we had been collecting things to put in the kindergarten soundbox for the letter 'F'. I had been thinking out loud earlier, and I had mentioned a feather but at the time I was thinking feather boa, not diseased feather off the sidewalk. I tried not to be too phobic and I let her put it in the bag with her other 'F' treasures, promising myself that I could clean them all later. She was just so proud of herself for finding it that I couldn't bring myself to throw it away.
The first thing I did when she got home; trashed the feather. And I sanitized my hands on the way back.