The GermoPhobe

The GermoPhobe with a capital 'P' in phobe is a man who works on the same floor of my office building. I have seen him around the building on numerous occasions but until yesterday I never really had the opportunity to observe his peculiar habits in person.

We were both in using the local lavatory. I entered the room moments before him and it became evident quite quickly that he is an avid reader of Toner Mishap, especially the post regarding Urinal Selection Strategy.

Unfortunately it is also clear that he failed that portion of the course as he opted for scenario #5 which is as follows. (Forgive me guys, but I am taking your graphic and your prose.)

Scenario 5
You're the only one in the bathroom, and you're standing at #1 (as is appropriate). Some guy walks in and, though #4 and #3 are both clean and available, he steps up to #2.

Some men suffer from FPS, or "Frightened Penis Syndrome." There is a long clinical description of this in JAMA and a number of other medical journals, not to mention the classic Mayo Clinic study, but rather than get too technical here is a basic description.

In its native habitat the penis is primarily a nocturnal creature who operates with stealth and guile under the cover of darkness. Sometimes when it is surprised it attempts to hide by trying to blend in with its immediate surroundings. In a bathroom situation that involves immediately cutting of the flow of urine so as not to make any noise or leave a trail that can be followed by hunters or animals employed by hunters such as the penis hound. But I digress, back to our story.

Said GermoPhobe lined up next to me but because I do not suffer from FPS I didn't really make note of it. I stood there and finished my business afterwhich I headed to the sink to wash my hands where I dutifully attended to cleaning myself.

The GermoPhobe was right behind me and using a power scrubbing technique he learned from a Tibetan lama he was able to cleanse and purify himself in time to walk out with me. And that was when I learned of his fear of germs.

As opened the door I noticed that he used a paper towel to take the door from me. Most of the time I wouldn't even have noticed this, but there was something about yesterday. Perhaps it was because the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter was aligned with Mars, but I felt something and I stared back at him.

Mr. GermoPhobe cleared his throat and stared back at me. Our eyes were locked in mortal combat when I broke the stalemate and asked about the paper towel.

It was at that point that he explained to me that he didn't think that I had done a proper job of washing my hands and that he didn't want to get sick.

Me: What did you say?
GermoPhobe: You didn't spend enough time washing your hands.

Me: Did you time me?
GermoPhobe: No, but I saw what happened at the urinal.

Me: What do you mean you saw what happened?
GermoPhobe: There was blowback, there was spray. It ended up on your hands and legs.

Me: How do you know?
GermoPhobe: I could hear the force with which you expelled your waste.

Me: The force with which I expelled my waste, what are you talking about?
GermoPhobe: It was loud and it was strong. You must have had a lot of coffee. When you pee that hard into a urinal you cannot help but be sprayed by yourself.

Me: You're right, but that is actually a special pheromone technique that is used to pick up women.
GermoPhobe: Not clean women.

Me: Really.
GermoPhobe: No clean woman would want to deal with that.

Me: She might be kinky. Maybe she is into that kind of thing.
GermoPhobe: Not anyone you want, that is filthy and disgusting. Do you know how many germs are in a bathroom.

Me: That varies from day to day. It depends on how much work is available. It is kind of similar in format to the day laborers that hang out at Home Depot. You can't blame the germs because it is a really effective system.
GermoPhobe: That is not funny.

Me: You're right. If it was funny I wouldn't be working here. I'd be on the Tonight Show and my life would be filled with glamor and fame and I certainly wouldn't need to rely on the old pheromone trick.
GermoPhobe: You really should wash your hands better.

Me: (I stuck a finger in my ear and then responded with) You might be on something.
GermoPhobe: Don't you mean onto something.

Me: No, I meant on something.
GermoPhobe: I find your comment offensive.

Me: Was it lost?
GermoPhobe: No, I mean that I don't appreciate what you are saying.

Me: Neither does my wife or my boss. Did they put you up to this.
GermoPhobe: I really should go.

Me: Not yet, I feel a really big sneeze coming on and if you wait a minute I'd be happy to share it with you. (With that I reached into my pants and scratched myself and then grabbed the door knob)

That must not have amused him because he carefully pushed by me and walked out of bathroom. I was a bit disappointed because I really wanted to shake his hand.

(Trackback to Basil)


Bill said...

Working at the Public Health Agency of Canada and surrounded by epidemiologists and public health specialists this makes me laugh.

Each public washroom here has a sign stuck to the mirror that says please wash your hands. The seriousness of hand washing has been stressed to the Canadian public with greater urgency since SARS hit Toronto Last year.

And I am sorry to admit I am an inveterate hand scrubber probably learned it from the same Tibetan Lama.

That said there is no one here as bad as your Germophobe. As I read your post I kept wondering how long it would take you to spit on the arrogant Pr-k.

A recent study I was reading stated that there are more germs in your average kitchen sink there are in your average toilet.

If I can find the origins of the study I will forward it.

I wonder what his opinion on oral sex might be? LOL

Next time, just pee on his shoes. (-:

Anonymous said...

I hate myself for loving this post.

alice, uptown said...

This post was hysterical. My diagnosis is GermoPhobe is obsessive-compulsive, with a tilt toward not being in touch (oh, he wouldn't touch, would he?) with reality.

PsychoToddler said...

I think I just laughed through my nose.


Jack Steiner said...


If it made you smile then I did my job.

MC Aryeh said...

You can't make stuff like this up...classic!

Attila said...

You did the world a favor by engaging this guy in conversation.

The Misanthrope said...

I'm right there with GermoPhobe. I use paper towels to turn the water off and open the door.

miriam sawyer said...

I was washing my hands so often and long that they itched. I scratched them and they started to bleed. Ugh!

Now the germs can get through the skin barrier. But my hands are clean.

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Brilliant post!


Mr. H.K.
Postcards from Hell's

And I Quote Blog

Jack Steiner said...


The world is full of interesting people.


You may be right.


I am not surprised.


Vaseline should help. ;)

Mr. HK,


Anonymous said...

I think his better answer, one that would not antagonize you even if you really were the reason for his use of the paper towel, would be that he has seen too many other workers not wash after peeing or crapping. Their germs were likely on the handle as well as, in his mind, yours.

My guess is you washed sufficiently with enough soap lather and water. But a real germ phobe does not assess this area rationally like all phobes. However, assuming he is rational enough to think he cannot change the world or that such an affront will change your behavior, he should just do his profilactic best with the hand towel.

BTW I use the hand towel approach when I question the cleanliness of an environment. Or if it is a push door I just avoid the metal rectangle most people use and push from 6-10 inches above it.

Anonymous said...

"BTW I use the hand towel approach when I question the cleanliness of an environment. Or if it is a push door I just avoid the metal rectangle most people use and push from 6-10 inches above it."

DAMN! Ill have to go for the 11-15 inch slot now!

Anonymous said...

Well, might as well use germbrella/ The Brella part of it might block the backsplash like an umbrella... hehehe

Jennifer Quinn said...

Being a germophobe myself, this is the first article I gravitated to when I popped onto your blog in the middle of the night. Even I, a self-(and other)proclaimed germophobe, was laughing and thinking, "Oh no he din'nt!" This story cannot be true. Can it?

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