A new month! I get excited for new months, superficially because I get to change the calendars, but, you know, in a metaphorical way because of the newness, symbolism of starting fresh, and that fact that I am progressing through the year.

Rather than do a heavy hitter blog post on the first of the month, I thought I would start a new thing called “Sketches” (keep up: we now have “Everyday Thursday,” “Scripture Snapshot,” and “Sketches.” Got it? Good). Basically every once in awhile I will do a post about a random obsession or compulsion or other issue that I have had recently (or in the past) related to my OCD. Hopefully you can find something to relate to in these sketches and even share similar stories of your own in the comments!

The Situation

So for today’s “sketch,” I want to take you with me to a little cafe near our hotel on our last trip. I was having a “day off”—my husband likes to (chooses to?) take the kids on an adventure most Saturdays for a few hours so that I can have some time alone to do whatever. So, while he took the kids to the beach (I am not a sand person), the plan was that I would hang out at the hotel, read, watch TV/movies, rest, etc.

I ended up spending most of the time outside of the hotel room because I erroneously believed that the cleaning people would clean my room while I was out and then I could hang out there in peace for the rest of the day. Let’s just say I gave them ample opportunity, but they decided to come after 5 p.m. when the kids had returned and we were trying to bathe them. Really? Really.

Anyway, back to the cafe, one of the places I escaped to during the day to allow the cleaning people to (not) clean our hotel room. I wasn’t very hungry, so I just ordered a smoothie. Because that was all I ordered, it wasn’t very expensive. I thought I should just pay in cash since using a credit card for under $10 sometimes seems a bit frivolous. The problem was that I thought the cashier said it was $4.29 but I’m pretty sure I received $5.81 back in change after giving her a $10.

The Problem

Now, I am very particular about paying the right amount, receiving the items on my receipt and nothing more, etc. Usually I would point out the supposed error, but for some reason I was tired of putting up a fight. I felt badly because she seemed hesitant about the total and I didn’t want to sound like a jerk. So, I put all the coins I received as change in the tip jar and went on my way.

Well, I sort of went on my way. Really, I was freaking out about it in my head for the next hour or so. I looked up restaurant tax in California, doing the calculations for what I should have been charged based on how much my smoothie cost ($4.29, by the way).

I even told my husband about it after he came back. He said something to the effect of, “So you paid way more than you were supposed to and you’re worried about it?” But to me, the tip jar is different than the cash register (even though I had rationalized that, if she came up short at closing, she could take the extra money I left in the jar to even out the till).


Going back to the old “What would Bob (a normal person) do?” question as proposed in  this post, I guess a normal person wouldn’t have counted their change in the first place. They probably would’ve just put the money in their wallet and not thought anything about it. Instead, me and my OCD created an entire scenario wherein I was cheating some poor cafe taxes and would probably, in the extreme worst case my OCD could envision, end up fined or arrested or something.

And that, friends, is a little glimpse into what it’s like to have OCD.

Have you had any similar OCD issues related to money, shopping, paying for things, etc.? Do you take any special precautions to avoid these kind of circumstances? 

3 thoughts on “Sketches: The Smoothie”

  1. If I’m understanding correctly what went on in your mind, the compulsions began the moment you began to argue with yourself over your supposed chances of dying and then planning other solutions. Mental compulsions are so tricky. You are into them before you even know it. It sister that you have your mental energy to this obsession and that in itself was the compulsion. Make sense? Would you like some articles on mental rituals to better explain this? By the way, you’re doing a great job with this blog!?

    1. Thanks Carol! That would be wonderful to see some articles– you find some great ones if I remember correctly!

      1. Cool! You do remember meeting me then. .? Do you have an email address that I can send the attachments to? And again, really good job with the blog. I like your examples and education. I was going to explain to the guy who asked why exposures sounded “sadistic”, but I just didn’t have the energy to. ? Are you a part of the 5,400 member online OCD support group at Yahoo groups? Lots of great information there.

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