Just a day in the life... · OCD

To eat or not to eat…

That is the question. No, I don’t have an eating disorder, but I do ask myself this question more often than I’d like. I think everyone has standards about the food they eat, the restaurants they dine-in and perhaps who they will allow to prepare their food. When you have OCD, especially the form that focuses on contamination, this becomes a bit more complicated.

One of the questions I often get asked when people become aware of my OCD is “how do you ever eat out?” Honestly, it is really, really, hard. However, I do it quite frequently. I actually really love to go out to eat, but I promise you there is never a dull moment.  Below are some of the uncomfortable situations I’ve run into while dining out.

  1. The most common occurrence is the presence of a band-aid on the waitress/waiter’s hand. Who cares, right? I do. My mind starts spinning and once i see it, I can no longer think about anything else except that band-aid. Why are they wearing it? What happened? When did it happen? OMG did it happen here? Maybe while they were preparing my salad or cutting our bread? Yes, I bet that is what happened. Next step to resolve this problem? I need to ask them how it happened and until I know, I can’t think about anything else.

Me:   “Oh no, what happened to your hand?” (By the way… at this point Pat is rolling his eyes at me because he knows exactly what I am doing)

Waiter: “Oh this, it’s nothing, I cut myself. Are you ready to order”

Me: “Really, what did you do? Did it happened today? That sucks.”

Waiter: ” Oh no, not today, yesterday. I was fixing my car. No big deal… Are you ready to order?”

At this point I can move on, because I know the cut is old and not oozing from under the band-aid. I am very aware that the purpose and function of a band-aid is to protect the person with the cut from outside hazards and block them from contaminating others, but to me it just screams ” I’M BLEEDING!” It’s horrible. I’ve actually bought salads for lunch and when it comes time to pay, notice a band-aid on the person’s hand. I’ll drive back to my office thinking, “oh it’s no big deal, it’s fine.” Unfortunately, by the time I sit down at my desk and try to eat it, nope, can’t do it, and I end up throwing it away. Sigh.

2. The unexplained, or explained red thing on my plate. I’m sure you have no idea what I am talking about. I have a weird affliction to the color red. Why? Because it looks like blood. So when there are red things (or semi-red – purple, pink and orange can also be called into question) in my food, whether they be pieces of fruit, sauce, red pepper flakes and/or other spices, this causes a major problem for me. I tend to stare at it for a while to try to determine what the “red” item is. If I can’t confirm the origin on my own, I need someone else to look at it…this job usually falls on Pat (you love me) or Cassie (you love me too). Once they tell me it is fine and not going to cause any harm, I generally can move forward with the meal. However, I have been known to put the item into a napkin and take it home with me to look at later. I KNOW IT IS WEIRD. I have even taken cloth napkins (horrible – I’m not only weird, I’m a thief), but it makes me feel better to know I can look at it again when I get home. Worst case scenario, the red thing cannot be explained and I end up not eating. This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

For example: There was a particular meal that I had with my mom and sisters, where I ordered a burger. Normal. I ordered it medium. Also normal. There was a bit of runoff juice from the burger that got on the burger bun – it happens. Could I eat the burger, no. Why? Because how do I know it is just runoff juice and not blood from the cook who happened to cut his/her finger while dicing tomatoes? Maybe they thought I wouldn’t notice. Sick. Yes. Would this happen? Probably not. Am I willing to take the risk? No chance in hell.

3. Finally – sharing food. We all learned to share when we were younger (at least I hope everyone did). I still share, but not when it comes to food or drinks..or clothes..actually …I don’t share much. I’d rather just give it to you. Why?… In regards to food, I hate the thought of someone else touching the food before me. BBQs are the worst. Everyone reaching their filthy hands into bowls of chips…veggies….crackers and cheese… Don’t even get me started on double dipping… don’t lie I know people do it. In restaurants, I can at least imagine that the chef/cook has gloves on – any cooks or chefs out there please don’t burst my “everyone wears gloves bubble.” I’ve worked in restaurants, I know the truth, but a germaphobe girl can pretend, right?

Sharing cups/ drinks of any kind –also gross. If people want to swap spit, that’s fine, I’d just rather not. Please and thank you.

I’m not the only one who hates sharing food.

So please, folks, just remember, Jenna (and Joey) do not share food.


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