How to… be germphobic

1. Repeat after me: Hand-sanitiser is your new best friend. You need to keep one little bottle in your bag, one on your desk and, naturally, one in every room of the house, so that it’s always readily at hand to annihilate any errant germs that might venture on to your palm.

 2. Any and every new surface of contact must be viewed with suspicion pending further careful examination. A pocket-size packet of tissues (or better still, wet wipes — with disinfectant, of course) in the bag is indispensable for dusting/wiping those grimy cinema theatre seats (shudder) or messy tables at the neighbourhood restaurant (double shudder).

 3. It doesn’t matter if you’re truly, madly, deeply in love with them or if they’re your Best Friend Forever. If they have a sniffley, sneezy cold or a horrible, hacking cough, they need to keep away. A true germphobic makes no distinctions — friend or foe, a germ-carrier is persona non grata. (You might want to form relationships with the less-sensitive sort).

 4. The fine art of germphobia also requires considerable research. Every new bug making its rounds in the city must be thoroughly researched online, and every single possible symptom anxiously tallied against those of any family members/colleagues who are currently under the weather (if they match even slightly, see No. 3). Then, all possible cures must be listed, and your neighbourhood pharmacist (you’re on first name terms with him, of course) consulted on availability. It’s a tough life.

 5. Finally, the hardcore germphobic is not shy about spreading the message. If you regularly scold your significant other for not using a tissue when he/she sneezes or instruct your co-workers, schoolmarm style, to use hand-sanitiser before lunch, you’re already halfway there.

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