Saturday 10 April 2010


I’m a germaphobe. Not OCD or anything, but getting pretty darn close. It’s when I start thinking about things too profoundly – an occupational hazard – that I can scare myself into never leaving the house. But as neurotic as I can be, I can also be stubborn, and no germ is going to keep me from enjoying my fine city – be damned you mutated flu virus!

Sometimes I play a game with myself and see how little I can touch out in public from point A to point B. I walk down the road with hands in pockets, then when at the stoplight, I hit the crossing button with the edge of my umbrella (this is England, it’s practically grafted to my hand), then I take a deep breath – the last fresh air one will have for awhile and head into the tube. This is where things get a bit tricky. Topping up one’s Oyster card (London’s pass of travel) with money is a delicate process. The trick is to never actually touch the machine, just the oyster card, and the money in your hand (I know I know, the money is probably the dirtiest thing out there, but I said this is a game, not a pathway to being institutionalized). Once you go through the gates and into the tube, from here on out it’s all about standing in the center of the carriage – I figure licking a motel bed sheet is cleaner than those seats – using your elbows, and praying your balance is on top form that day. Or of course the other option, travel with your boyfriend and use him as support and manslave.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days when fatigue and hunger hits, and I’m the woman on the tube slumped in the seat, holding her library book (that everyone in the city who has checked it out has handled) digging through her bag for anything edible. It’s on these days I tell myself to lighten up, no one ever died from something on a subway seat (or have they??). Dear god, where is my anti-bacterial gel?!
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