Moms Columns & Blogs

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November 18, 2009



At least a decade before I noticed others doing it, I used paper towels or toilet paper to turn off public bathroom faucets and open doors; I also began using my own pen to sign things or fill out paperwork at doctor’s appointments, schools, the bank, grocery store, wherever...  Today I pretty much avoid places where I am forced to use an electronic pen pad; I just know there are unseen colonies of microbes lurking on it, waiting to invade my space…



I’ve done these things for so long I’m no longer embarrassed or apologetic; it’s reflexive, especially now that I know catching a common cold can trigger an asthma attack in me.  I don’t even think about it anymore.  So yesterday I was caught off guard when three different people took note of and commented on my behavior…



I arrived early for my first post-40 mammogram screening at our local hospital.  Bold notices warning of the H1N1 virus and prohibiting entry of children under the age of 18 greeted me, adorning the doors and walls at every turn.  As I checked into radiology, the volunteer manning the desk pushed the clipboard toward me, along with several pens.  I nudged them aside in favor of the one I fished from the bottom of my pocket book.  She noticed and sighed, saying “I know; I wipe them off with hand sanitizer several times a day, but it’s probably not enough.”  I looked up, surprised, and said “I’ve been doing this forever; it’s nothing new for me…not a reaction to the flu thing.”  She nodded, as I wandered off to find a seat in the waiting room.



“Mrs. Garlock, window three, window three please!”



I sat down, presenting my insurance card and drivers license to the registration clerk…  Several questions later, she pushed a sheaf of papers forward for me to sign, along with a pen from her collection cup.  I quickly grabbed the paperwork, ignored her germ laden writing utensil and pulled one out of my bag.  Her comment: “I need to start doing that myself!”  I shook my head in agreement, smiling as I said “Yes, I’ve been doing this for a while.”



Another volunteer escorted me to the mammography waiting area; I passed the time writing in my journal, patiently waiting to be pancaked.  The technician finally showed me into a changing room, explained things, asked a few more questions and presented one last slip of paper in need of my signature.  Trusty pen at the ready, I scrawled my name once more.  She looked at me and laughed: “Me too!  I always use my own pen!  Best to be safe!”  I laughed along with her, marveling at the attention my quirky habit garnered today…



I guess this leaves no doubt about it; I’m officially a public germ-a-phobe, but you can’t be too cautious, can you?  Rather than considering myself strange, I choose to believe I was ahead of my time…



Wishing you sunshine and always, hope…tg



Tammy will update her blog on Mondays and Thursdays.  -- Jen, site administrator
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