Among my many flaws is a somewhat compulsive need to maintain a clean and orderly home. It is practically impossible for me to go to bed if there are dirty dishes stacked on the counter. I get an adrenaline rush from eliminating clutter, and it pains me to see Cheerios scattered beneath the kitchen table.
This obsessive / compulsive tendency is amplified when we have visitors. I know it’s stupid to clean the house right before a bunch of five year olds come over as they’ll undo my hard work in less than 60 seconds, but that doesn’t stop me from getting all cleaning-crazy in the hour before they arrive. I’m pretty sure it drives my wife crazy.
In analyzing this behaviour, I did some reflection on what may have contributed to the formation of this unfortunate flaw. Perhaps something in my work history might shed some light on the issue…
• My first job was at a Knights of Columbus Hall. I’d show up on Saturday and Sunday mornings to clean up after banquets – wipe down tables, vacuum and sweep floors, wash windows, etc.
• I then spent two summers as a student custodian at my high school. For two months, I cleaned up dozens of classrooms, wiped down hundreds of empty lockers, swept and mopped miles of corridors, and painstakingly restored old gymnasium floors
• In 1993, I spent four months in the Band of Ceremonial Guard, which meant joining the Army Reserve. I probably spent at least 2 hours a day that summer ironing my uniform, polishing boots, combing my bearskin hat, and ensuring the turn-down on my bunk was the exact length of a bayonet. Anything less than perfection usually meant a dressing down and some kind of unpleasant punishment
• I followed that up with five summers as a member of the Fort Henry Guard. This entailed hundreds and hundreds of hours of boot polishing, brass shining, and de-linting
I think it’s obvious that those are all totally unrelated to my OCD. I guess I’ll just have to keep looking for clues in the distant recesses of my memory.
In the meantime, if you’re going to pop over for a visit, you need to give me at least an hour to get ready – you wouldn’t believe how much Lego is on the floor in the boys’ room, and don’t get me started about the dried milk patches on the hardwood.