The title of this sketch sounds like some old saying or proverb or something, but it’s pretty straight forward. It’s about what happens when you let your OCD tendencies or obsessions get out of hand.

The situation

Back when we lived in Utah, I would shop at Walmart since it was close to our house. One time I bought some straws, I think, and for some reason, I got into my head that I needed to check to make sure that the correct number of straws was in the box. I wasn’t worried about whether or not there were less straws in the box; I just had to check that there weren’t more than advertised. If there were more, I would have to take the straws to customer service, tell them what had happened, and try to pay for the extra straws. 

The problem

Writing and thinking about it now makes it seem ridiculous. How would I pay for two or three single straws? Wouldn’t they think I was nuts? Who individually counts the straws in a giant box of straws? My contamination OCD must not have been very bad then because now just thinking of touching each straw to count it grosses me out—touching something people put in their mouth and putting it back in the box? Not okay.

I think I also had the thought to count toothpicks once too, but I suspect that I drew the line at that. Counting individual toothpicks would take forever and be pretty ridiculous. Knowing me, I would also want to double count them just to make sure that I got it right the first time.

Related OCD grocery store issues I have dealt with include: worrying when cashiers typed in the wrong item code for produce (i.e., charging us for garlic vs. organic garlic—I finally threw away a receipt I had been saving for years in case I wanted to go back and correct the error. We live in a different state now) or thinking maybe the check out line’s scale was off and reweighing bananas, etc. at home to make sure the weight I was charged for was correct.


The OCD loves and thrives on this obsession or goal I have to be “completely honest.” Of course, being honest is a noble goal. We should all try to be honest. But counting straws, saving receipts for years, and reweighing your produce to double check the grocery store? That is crossing the line a bit.

Have you done any similar things to appease your OCD? Where do you think the line should be drawn?