Friday, September 9, 2011

I'm So Dirty!

A woman came up to the counter, greying hair, shirt striped with different shades of blue. "I have a book on hold," she said.

"Okay, what's your last name?," I asked. She said her name and I turned behind me and retrieved the book off the hold shelf. She sighed and sighed again. "Is something wrong?," I asked.

"Well. You touched it. The book. You just touched it and you'd just been touching your face. I have a germ phobia, and now you've touched it," she said.

"Ah," I said, a little stunned. I put the book wrapped in its hold slip down on the counter. "Well, we have wipes, I can wipe my hands."

"It's too late, you already touched it," she said.

"Your book is wrapped mostly in the hold slip, which is what I was touching," I said.

"No, I saw. You touched a corner of the book too."

"Okay," I said, stepping back from the counter, knowing this wasn't going well. "I'll get some wipes."

"Well, that might help, if you don't touch where you already touched."

After I wiped my hands, I removed the rubber band and paper from the book and set it down on the counter without touching the book. "I have to touch the scanner," I told her, and I started wiping it.

"Are those those Lysol wipes? You shouldn't be using those, those are bad for you, they'll make you sick," she said. "I'm just thinking about you."

"Well, these are what I'm using right now. It's what I have," I told her.

"You should wash your hands right after this, then," she said. "It doesn't matter about wiping the scanner," she said.

I'd been thinking about how since my hands were (evidently) so dirty and I'd been touching the scanner all day, that touching the scanner again would then sully my hands after I'd wiped them. But whatever.

"You can get rid of the paper, I don't want it," she said.

"Well, I need the paper, I need a number off of it. But I won't touch the paper," I said. She sighed. I entered what I needed to from the paper and scanned the book without touching it.

"I'm sorry," I said, "but I touch money all day, which is dirtier than my hands."

"Well that makes me feel better, telling me that," she snapped. "This is why it's hard for me to buy things in public places," she said, almost to herself. She held her credit card gingerly with her index finger and her thumb. "Can I slide it now?" she asked.

"Yes, you can slide the card," I told her. She slid the wrong side of the card in the machine. She realized this and turned it around, trying to barely touch the card and not touching the machine. I did not to tell her that some people lick their credit cards if the machine won't read the card the first time.

"Would you like a bag?", I asked.

"Yes. I would like a bag," she said.

"I have to touch it, but I won't touch your book. I tried to use as few fingers as possible to get a bag. I grabbed a tissue to use between my hand and the book, and put the book in the bag.

I took the receipt from the register, but did not touch the one she had to sign. I placed the receipt in the bag, and then the bag on the counter, again trying have as little contact between my hands and the bag. "All right, that's it," I said. She took the bag and left. I was exhausted.

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  1. Yikes! What was the book?? That must be hard for her to have the phobia but she's just freaking about seeing you touch it. What about when it was packed in the shipping carton that came to your store and then unpacked and put on the shelf then grabbed off the shelf to put on the hold shelf?? I imagine she has a really difficult time functioning at all.

  2. Actually it was an audio version of Lisa See's Shanghai Girls. An audio version that was wrapped in plastic!

    And right, all of the people who touched it to get it to the warehouse, to the store, to the shelf, to the hold shelf...lots of touching.

  3. I'm pretty sure I sneezed all over that...