I've washed toilets for a living, but it didn't make it any easier

Some people know this about me. Most people have no clue. But since all you have to do now is read a few of my blog posts to know pretty much everything you need to know about me in under an hour I may as well tell you about another thing that drives the people closest to me absolutely nuts! Super Mom, my boys, my siblings and at my very genesis, my parents all know this thing about me that after reading this you will also be privy to.

Today I’ll tell you about something that drives me nuts and has a ripple affect on my family. It is my little dirty little secret. I have very little control over it. It started out as a little thing but as I get older its getting worse. I can’t believe I’m confessing this to people over the Internet of all places but it’s an issue and maybe by baring my soul I can find a kindred soul or at the very least, someone who can give me some clinical information about it and perhaps help me rein it in.

I’m a germaphobe.

Yep, I said it and I will totally understand if the two people in the world who consider me a friend decide to distance themselves from me now because I’m a freak. I’m not the neurotic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) type and I’ve never actually been diagnosed with Mysophobia but there’s something wrong with a guy who has to wash his hands all the time after he’s made contact with another human being, a door knob, a shopping cart or a baby’s binky, right?

I know, its all in my head. After all, I’ve lived in a third world country for seven years, I’m constantly shaking hands or high-fiving someone whether its in church or in youth sports and while serving an LDS mission it was almost a given that I had to walk through a mine field of animal waste in order to get to someones house. I have five sons and a legion of nieces and nephews. How can I be afraid of germs?

In Samoa they call it ‘fia-palagi‘ which in essence means that I’m a Samoan who is acting like a White/Caucasian person. The origins of the term are sketchy but the phrase became prominent because Caucasians, while in Samoa, generally didn’t want to get their hands dirty or do the menial tasks that Samoans do on a daily basis. We know of course that the phrase was a rash generalization because there are a lot more Caucasians that I know of who get their hands a lot dirtier than we Samoans do while doing menial tasks – dirty work.

You need to know that I’ve always been this way. Ask some of my closest friends (even the ones who don’t consider me a friend anymore) and any of my family members. I will get out there and get my hands dirty; I’ll go on camp-outs with a dozen Scouts, dig trenches, drive dirty rigs; I have cleaned toilets for a living and emptied out trash cans in an office complex. I’ll go to a retirement community and help clean or change a babies diaper. But after every one of those tasks I will scrub my hands under hot water with soap for thirty minutes and even after all that they still don’t feel clean to me.

This does not in any way mean that I won’t shake your hand, hold your kids or ride the bus. No, I actually don’t know what it means other than I’m probably a little crazy and I have a few bolts that aren’t quite tightened in my head. What I do know is that it’s a part of me that I can’t figure out. A part of me that I don’t really know how to fix. Maybe I need to go back to Samoa and immerse myself in a 30-day Samoan living course out in the country where you live off the land, feed your animals and cook your food over an open flame. Maybe I need to go to a daycare center and sit in a chair while a dozen screaming kids smear snot and buggers on my arms and face.

Whatever the case may be I know that it’s every bit as annoying to me as I’m sure it is to the people around me. I am a germaphobe. If you need me, I’ll be by the sink washing my hands.

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