The Kitchen Nazi
I'm almost the opposite of the average person (in so many ways, but they're blogs for many other occasions) in that I am more vulture-like and hyper-critical about kitchen hygiene and etiquette at the office than I am at home.
For instance at home I'll go for a run with Dogadoo, and, like yesterday it will be a muddy affair that result in my legs being spattered and me having to grab Dogadoo and wrap her up in a towel so that she resembles a rather disgruntled and hairy packet of fish and chips. She'll then get her slow-slung tummy, chest, legs and paws wiped clean before she's allowed to come inside for her breakfast.
Meanwhile Love Chunks will be firing up his beloved Gaggia for our delicious morning coffee and see me picking up Dogadoo's bowl and start tickling her on her belly; right where she loves it. As the hawk-and-gargle frothing sounds of the steaming milk start up, I'll make myself busy by unpacking the dishwasher. LC (clearly waiting for the right time) will then turn around and in his most pompous voice ask, "So, I'll assume that you've thoroughly washed your hands before touching our nice, clean dishes?" I used to mutter and slink off in embarrassment to the bathroom, but now I just look back at him with a smiling cheeky face and reply "Nup," or "Mayyyybe." Once I did a majestic nose pick and reached over to dramatically wipe it on his sleeve but he held me back with the olive oil spray and some hot tongs....
I also like using the Three Second Rule when it applies to food or cutlery falling on the floor at home. You know the one - it's most often used by parents who are way past the "Oh dear, our precious first born infant is at risk of catching a cold from the man with a runny nose we spotted from the safety of our car..." to the more lax, "Look, boys can wear pink," "Don't check on the kids unless you hear hysterical screaming or smell blood," and "Let's play hide and seek - you count to one thousand and Mummy will go hide (in her car)..."
The three second rule is this: You are allowed to reach down and pick up the dropped item within three seconds of contact with the floor/dog's back/toddler's mouth and do not have to worry about the ramifications of shoving it back into your mouth - the rule considers that the time taken to do this manouevre is considered far too quick for any opportunistic germs to have jumped on the item and rained on your parade (or pesky pineapple piece). Better still if you give the dropped fork or knife a quick wipe on your trouser leg in the same move from floor to gob.
In addition, any crumbs left on the counter are usually carelessly flicked by me directly onto the floor or anywhere within a 5m radius of the swipe, which is normally done with a Chux superwipe that has more holes than my knitting and which is older than our daughter.
What puzzles me is that I don't apply this slack-but-survival-minded attitude to our kitchen at work. Before any poor colleague's had a chance to even think about rinsing their teaspoon under the hot tap, I'm wiping the counter directly underneath their hands with the new sponge like an overly-caffeinated charwoman, before setting to the entire benchtop, stainless steel fridge door and microwave plate with the idea of "Hey, I'm already here, so why not give the whole area a wipe down?"
Any food that slips from my fingers is immediately scooped up and flung straight into the bin and cutlery is scrubbed until my fingers crack with detergent overload. Despite my inner-self saying, "Take a good hard look at yourself - you're like a blonde Paula Duncan advertising Spray and Wipe on Speed", I keep at it. Polishing the tea bag splat marks from the flip top bin lid, arranging the wicker tray at precise right angles to the edge of the wall and - yes - even keeping a tiny little shopping list next to our communal coffee supply tray.
I have just - but only just - managed to stop myself from writing or typing signs that say stuff like, "Please wash and clean up after yourself," or, "These are CWL property - all plates and cups must be returned to the kitchen by close of business" but I do recognise that I may not be able to repress the urge for much longer.
What's tough on my colleagues is that they're decent, kind, smart and thoughtful people: not ignorant slobs with the social skills of Sir Les Patterson. I have very little doubt that they would consider me an over-zealous Hygiene Hawk in kitchen matters and they have accepted my insanity as an endearing character trait and even kindly drawn up a kitchen roster.
The roster is working well and yet, even when I'm in there for a few seconds just chucking my lunch into the fridge, I can't help pick up the damn sponge and giving the counter a wipe ''just to make sure"...... I'm sure that my boss, Queen B, wishes I would give our proformas, mailing lists and files the same OCD attention.