Sunday, September 6, 2009

What Is "Normal" Anyway?

I've noticed on some of the OCD boards, the concept of what kind of "normal" we should be aiming for. After all these years of washing or checking or straightening or worrying, we've lost our calibration of normal activity.

While I often read that people with OCD have to reset themselves by exposing ourselves even past normal, recently I've been noticing that "normal" people sure expose themselves to some yucky things.

My family, as I've noted before, are all pretty non-OCD with germs, and I've assumed that meant I didn't have to do quite what they do (in some cases, pretty much never washing their hands EVER). During the last week I did a lot of watching of what other people do without thinking twice.

At a recent lunch meeting one woman, eating a salad, dropped some of her parmesan flakes on the conference room table and just "swept" them right back into her salad (along with who knows what else). Another guy dropped his pen on the floor and picked it up and immediately started chewing on it. A few weeks ago, another coworker was cutting up an apple, dropped a piece on the work kitchen floor, picked it right back up and ate it.

While I wait for the bus, I regularly see people rest briefcases and sometimes even food on public trashcans.

Several of my coworkers walk around in their sockfeet at work (I wasn't too horrified until she walked into the bathroom that way. Ack!)

Last week at bowling, a fellow bowler alternated bowling with the house ball and eating pizza.

And I won't even get started on what I've seen at potlucks at my house.

All of these people seem generally healthy, so I guess we've evolved to withstand this kind of thing, despite what all those public health websites would tell us.

Gulp, if they can do it, I guess I can, too,


  1. Yeah, resting things on or near a public trashcan, or heck, even my own trash can at home, is past what I can deal with. Maybe you're right, though.....if they can do it, why can't I?

  2. Shana, I too think the garbage can might remain beyond me. I WOULD, however, be happy to be able to accidentally brush up against big public trashcan without spending the next hour thinking about it.