I slide in on the heels of a middle-aged woman, so the door swings open and I never touch it.
I reach for the automatic paper towel dispenser, pull off a piece and head to the bathroom stall. Naturally, my hand does not want to touch any part of the handle of the stall while opening it or closing it. So I use the paper towel as a barrier between the door and my hand as I open the bathroom stall handle.
Next I begin prepping for the “hover”. Women develop great muscle tone in their legs by hovering over the toilet seat. Because I have germaphobia, I can’t use the outer layer of toilet paper provided, because God knows what might linger on that puppy. Blowback, splatter, or spray. Things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. What if the person before me had explosive diarrhea? dear God….microscopic fecal matter or worse blood borne pathogens lingering. My thoughts race a thousand miles an hour and my heart beats a thousand beats per second. I want OUT of this horrid public bathroom that smells like a raw sewage backup with febreeze misting in through the air.
I have to unravel several sheets of said toilet paper round and round many times and then discard that before I can even think of it, as “safe” to use. Then I’m clear to for take off, ready to void.
Oh and that’s the other thing, pooping? Ummm no. I would rather prairie dog it til’ I get home before I’d use a public rest room. That’s pretty much a cardinal rule of “no can do” with my OCD/ germaphobia variant.
Once I’m through, and am all buttoned up, I grab another piece of toilet paper to grab the door handle with and let myself out of the stall. Before I exit , I throw that into the toilet and turn around quick-like and kick the flusher handle down with the bottom of my shoe.
I return back to the automatic paper towel dispenser to get a piece, with which to turn on the water faucet at the sink and also use it to pull down the soap dispenser. I then wash my hands. I return back to the paper towel dispenser to get more paper so I that I can dry my hands and grab one extra square to let myself out of the bathroom.
It is a well-choreographed dance like movement in an operating theatre. A waltz I know well after being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in my late teens. I have it down to a science now and can do it so quickly I do not think about the routine. I get in, and get out in nearly the same amount of time that the next person does.
Once back in college, I felt a sense of shame about having this lengthy public bathroom regimen, knowing (at least intellectually) it was irrationally based behavior. Come on, if someone was watching, it looks bat-shit crazy.
Then one day I observed one of my professors who held a PhD, using the same bathroom, who had just had a bowel movement and left without washing her hands.
I no longer felt ashamed after she walked out. I believe I may have washed my hands an extra time, just because.