I am not without my own share of neuroses. People notice this about me. It takes me 2 hours or more to complete a blog entry that can be read in 15 minutes or less, because I want it to come out in such a way that most represents my voice/style. Is that so much to ask if you are a writer?
Beyond that, my OCD manifests itself in my germophobic -ness. I feel so uncomfortable when I travel without a small bottle of hand sanitizer. And, of course, I am scared shitless by public restrooms. They need to, at least, have hand soap. It’s highly unsanitary (SUBSTANDARD!), if they don’t.
I have had a frightening experience in China, where I was in a public market’s building with a completely full bladder. As many of you well know, a lot of the public toilets in China are still squat-type (in KFC, malls, you name it…). The ones with actual toilet bowls are usually reserved for the old or disabled. Through the years, I’ve grown to accept that you have to make due with what you’re presented, lest you get a Urinary Tract Infection or kidney stones from holding it in so long. –And frankly, it’s no different from a public toilet here in the sense that, if the custodial staff doesn’t clean it so often or if someone forgets to flush or if someone just has stinky pee, it’ll look and smell bad all the same.
So anyway, I had to rush into that bathroom and found mounted squat toilets connected together by one long common “canal” that passes through all the stalls. In the first stall I came across, the door stood ajar. I was about to go in when I saw a woman squatting. She didn’t bother to close the door. I quickly walked away to the next stall.
As I was trying to get settled, the custodian decided to show up and do a little cleaning. She “flushed” the toilets from one end of the room (the last stall) by dousing the canal with a lot of water. I was ready to pee when I saw someone’s feces float by at a rapid, splashy pace a few inches from my ass. I completely freaked out and decided to hold it in (agonizing as it was) until we got out of that building.
For the record, you get used to the toilets there. It’s a small price to pay if you want to enjoy the sights and eat the good food. My advice to people who plan to visit is to pee right before you leave the hotel. Get that out of the way, at least. Then bring a great deal of toilet paper and a small bottle of liquid hand soap, just in case. But surprisingly, a lot of places there have soap and toilet paper. Maybe more than places here in the Philippines, where you have to buy the essentials from a vendo machine.
Also, (and though I am well-aware that these states are mostly autonomous) Macau has really beautiful toilets in their hotel-casinos. Ditto for Hong Kong’s malls. Everything is as hi-tech as they can get. Automatic flush, automatic faucet, automatic soap dispenser, and the place smells good too.
My point is that I am OCD, but not without good reason. And providing that I am equipped with my small set of essentials (soap, sanitizer, tissues), I can adapt anywhere fairly well. Also, to a certain extent, it is beneficial in my (intended!) line of work. I don’t beat myself up too badly over being a little neurotic in this case…
*Photo from Bench website.