1. Riding the subway.
Everyone else: A method of transportation that allows you to get from one point in the city to another. Often part of one’s daily commute to work.
Germaphobes: A moving metal box covered in dirt, grime, and other people’s sticky fingers. Do NOT touch the poles.
2. Throwing away trash in a public setting.
Everyone else: A process in which you approach the trash receptacle, open the bin with one hand, and throw your trash in with the other.
Germaphobes: A struggle to push the bin open with the thing you are throwing away and release it into the bin before the flap can shut and trap it halfway. Under no circumstances should you yourself touch the bin.
3. Actually, anything involving trash in general.
Everyone else: You fill the bag, you take out the bag.
Germaphobes: You fill the bag, being careful never to touch anything already in it, then hope that your roommates will take it out so you don’t have to touch any of that nasty stuff again.
4. Meeting someone new.
Everyone else: You say hello and shake that person’s hand in a friendly gesture of goodwill.
Germaphobes: You say hello and shake that person’s hand and spend the next 20 minutes freaking out about whether or not they washed their hands properly the last time they went to the bathroom.
5. Sharing food with a friend.
Everyone else: Both people take bites from whatever part of the dish they want.
Germaphobes: Setting up a barrier between your portion and everyone else’s, at least an inch thick to ensure no cross-contamination.
6. Drying your hands.
Everyone else: Push the lever, take paper towel, dry hands.
Germaphobes: Press up against the lever with your elbow, stomach, back — anything, really, besides your hands.
7. Opening doors.
Everyone else: A simple process in which you turn a handle and either push or pull.
Germaphobes: The reason so many of your shirts are awkwardly bunched/stretched near the bottom, because you need to use them as a buffer between your hand and the handle itself.
8. Sharing a drink.
Everyone else: Multiple people take a swig from the same bottle.
Germaphobes: Drinking your half in one sitting, even if you aren’t that thirsty, because once someone else’s mouth touches that bottle, it’s game over.
9. Using a water fountain.
Everyone else: In order to get a drink, you put your mouth reasonably close to the spout and push the button.
Germaphobes: A process by which you must push the button, wait a few seconds just in case there are any residual germs somehow in the water, then hold your mouth as far away from the spout as possible while still being able to drink.
10. Going to the gym.
Everyone else: An occasion during which you choose one or more pieces of workout equipment and utilize them as part of an exercise regimen.
Germaphobes: An occasion that calls for using cleaning wipes repeatedly on any piece of equipment before touching it, especially when you can see someone’s butt sweat still just sitting there.
11. Attending a party with chips and dip.
Everyone else: A great chance to have some delicious chips and dip. Duh.
Germaphobes: An evening of worrying that someone else may have double dipped, and thus any chips you have eaten are tainted. Or, not eating chips and dip.
12. When a pet eats from your dishes.
Everyone else: An adorable moment in which a human bonds with their animal by sharing some food with them.
Germaphobes: An adorable moment that results in needing to separate “clean” dishes from “animal” dishes because even if you wash that plate, you’re always going to think about how your dog’s tongue was on there. And that tongue has probably touched poop.
13. Preparing to make dinner.
Everyone else: An activity in which you cook various ingredients in any manner you please.
Germaphobes: An activity in which you cook various ingredients after you have double-checked that all of the pots, pans, and dishes are clean and, honestly, have probably rewashed most of them just in case.
14. Going camping.
Everyone else: A great way to get in touch with nature and enjoy spending some time away from distracting technology.
Germaphobes: Literally hell. A contest to see how long you can go without needing to use the bathroom since THERE IS NO BATHROOM and you can’t wash your hands afterward.
15. Making s’mores.
Everyone else: A fun fireside activity involving toasting marshmallows and combining them with chocolate and graham crackers.
Germaphobes: A fireside activity that is ONLY allowed if someone brought metal skewers because there is no way in hell you are using a nasty stick off the ground for your marshmallows.
16. Working in the garden.
Everyone else: A relaxing and peaceful way to enjoy growing flowers, herbs, and more.
Germaphobe: Basically the same as just dumping a bucket of dirt on yourself because it’s so gross out there.
17. Buying groceries.
Everyone else: Entering the grocery store, choosing a shopping cart, and filling it up with products that you need.
Germaphobes: Seeing how much you can just fit in your arms because you do NOT want to have to touch that cart handle.