That’s right, I made a career in retail with a fear of the number one item I would guarantee to have to touch over and over again so long as I was successful. And with each single touch of that slick paper I would feel a shiver through my fingertips, up my arm, and into my chest.
To be completely honest I have absolutely no real idea. The earliest memory of this fear came from riding along in my father’s trashed truck to school each morning and being surrounded by them from floor to ceiling, blended with business cards which were nearly just as bad. Everything was twice as filthy as he was an incredibly hard working pool maintenance man, leaving dirt, grease, and grime to cover his fingertips and then to permanently ooze their way into the crevices of the ornate weave of thick business cards and create a distressed border along the edges of his Circle K and Burger King receipts. So for a while paper trash in general became a huge freak out phobia of mine.
But beyond the filth and their fluttering all about me like a gyre of garbage as we cruised with the windows rolled down and his cigarette hanging out of his mouth; the very feeling when I touch them makes my fingers tingle. No not like tingle in nervousness, but tingle as if your fingertips would tingle if you touched static electricity, or some toxic chemical. It’s an uncomfortable sensation that leaves me wanting to wash my hands and anything the receipt comes in contact with.
Living with this Phobia.
In all my relationships I let my partners take the receipt for me, or would strongly urge customer service reps not to hand it over to me, to just dispose of it themselves. Yes sometimes I can imagine I came off a bit overbearing or rude. If a meal ticket number is listed on a receipt I memorize it immediately and find my way to the nearest trash receptacle.
It makes for quite an uncomfortable experience many times when eating the fine dining of fast food. My favorite Mexican joint made a point to lay receipts out on top of the tortilla chips when issuing my order which made me gag and toss the top few chips with the receipt on my way to the table. Finally one of my dearest friends had become a sort of ambassador for their branding to college students and placed a request they stop on my behalf. Surprisingly they did, for a couple of years at least. McDonald’s loves to tape receipt to my burger box with a round sticker, to punish me for my special request of no pickles or onions. So now not only do I have to deal with a receipt but one that clings itself to my surroundings?!
As a mom we visit Sam’s or Costco on a weekly basis, and I try to use the register closest to the exit since they insist I carry the receipt to the door. One very sweet man loves to take the receipt and draw a friendly smiley for my toddler daughter and then hands it over to her. I smile, the notion is heart warming, but on the inside I am absolutely dying. I now see that tingling sensation in her fingers, though she is not phased, I can see the filth soaking into her skin, contaminating her body. The receipt makes it to the car before I try to trade her for some toy so I can quickly dispose of it in a trash bin.
A Shed of Hope that I’m Not All Crazy
It wasn’t until I was a senior in college, when I was dating a science TA who found research that receipts actually release a potentially dangerous chemical, BPA. I am not a scientist, and I am not going to feign an expertise, but upon research BPA has been proven to cause:
-Some Forms of Cancer
-Early onset of Puberty
-Behavioral changes in children
( I picture people skipping through young budding wheat fields as I read through this; like I’m reading an Anti-Depressant ad)
It is said that the frequent use of hand sanitizer can leave you more susceptible to this chemical upon claiming your receipt. I’m by no means an extremist, I’m not trying to say that I’m handing you side of cancer with your new garb you’ve just purchased, but I do feel that perhaps there is a sensitivity that my skin may have to this chemical. Almost like an allergy. I mean I’m obviously not infertile from my years of exposure, nor did I suffer from early onset puberty (as I was quite a late bloomer compared to my classmates) despite my shower of receipts on the way to school each morning of my childhood, but perhaps it is something to take into consideration.