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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

what sets off your OCD?


This weekend’s Question comes from reader beccity98, who wants to know

What sets off your OCD? Crooked picture frames? Clothes not facing the same way?

Is this just me? I can — and do — have teetering piles of books, notebooks, DVDs, etc, all helter-skelter and not squared off in the least, but a crooked picture frame will drive me crazy. And clothes not facing the same way? What sort of crazy person would hang clothes in a closet facing different ways?!

In a similar vein, the currency in my wallet has got to be facing the same way. Otherwise, all is chaos.


(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)

  • Steve Gagen

    I’m a self-confessed Geek, so lots of things set me off – crooked picture frames included. Even worse is when the picture has slipped within the frame and can’t be straightened without taking it apart! I get irked by pedantic things – like people using the term Sci Fi to describe serious science fiction! And my pet hate is people not screwing tops back on things!

  • beccity98

    What sets off my OCD is when I type out a long answer, then realize I haven’t ‘logged in’ and do so, and it erases everything I just typed.

    I do have to have all my clothes hanging the same way. I learned this from one of my first jobs, 15 years ago, and I still do it.

    When I go shopping, especially at clearance racks and discount stores like Ross, where all the clothes are a jumble, I start at the left side of the rack, push all the clothes to the right, then slide each hanger to the left so I can see each item. This is a method I learned at that same job, not only for looking through clothes, but for straightening them. Of course, it ticks me off when people see me doing this, come up on my right and push the clothes towards me. “Do you not understand how physics works?! You push them away from you, they get closer to me! Start on my other side!”

    I did ask this question, and I usually have my own answer, but I can’t remember it.

  • LaSargenta

    Not putting things back in the fridge right away when done with them and pretty much everything dealing with my job.

    I’m an engineer who frequently looks at other’s drawings and Let Me Tell You, any, and I mean ANY, lazy drawing making pisses me off. DO NOT leave off Elevations, what Datum you are using, clear and OBVIOUS column lines, the north arrow, and for chrissakes make sure every single footing has a unique reference identifier.

  • Froborr

    Nothing, because I don’t have OCD, and it would be really offensive to compare mere pickiness to a serious mental illness that causes its victims genuine suffering?

  • I thought everyone put their money in their wallet facing the same direction. You mean there’s people who don’t? That’s just weird. heck, same with the clothes thing. My wife will hang a shirt backwards sometimes, and it just baffles me.
    What really gets me going is washing dishes and hanging laundry. When I wash the dishes I place everything in the sink/drying mat in such a way that it will not hold water and dry quickly. My wife, on the other hand. Just piles everything up without any thought about them drying or holding water. It drives me NUTS.
    When I do laundry, I take things out of the washer and turn those items that got turned outside in, back around. I also hang things on the line(no dryer here) in such a way that they dry without lines in the middle of the shirts and such. My wife, on the other hand(again!), is always in a hurry, and just throws it all over the line, not caring about how it dries or looks when dried. So the shirts she “hangs” end up with big creases down the middle. I explain all this to her, but she refuses to change. Drives me NUTS.
    I’m really not that OCD about other cleaning activities, as I simply don’t have the time, but I just don’t get these things, because whjat I do is simply logical.

  • Yes! Another weird quirk of my wife is that she hardly ever tightens the top on food items. jar tops are almost always only half closed. Anything with a ziploc type top is often left open. takes WAY too much time to do it properly I guess.

  • As an Estimator, and a viewer of many Architectural, Civil, and Landscape Architectural, plans, I very much concur.

  • althea

    Until recently I had occasion to use an elevator that had an inspection form inserted at an angle, in a glass frame attached to the wall. Drove me crazy. I was usually there alone and always wanted to break the glass and straighten it. Was made worse by the museum posters on another wall that were, of course, perfectly mounted.

  • althea

    Marky, it’s not just people who don’t put their bills facing the same way in their wallets. I prefer it too, but when a clerk hands me change from a register, much of the time it isn’t put into my hand with the bills facing the same way. On occasion, then, in order to keep the line moving, I have to jam it in my purse however it was given to me. Note that it came out of the cash register that way. Whoever set up the cash drawer put the bills in there that way, and the clerk doesn’t have time to order them. !#$$#(!#$!!!!!$#@%

  • althea

    I am a word and language geek. Show me a typo and it’ll stop me in my tracks. There are some not so egregious but the worst ones will make me stop reading a book altogether, no matter how well-reviewed or popular it is. There are quotes that stick in my head years later, that positively turn my stomach. If it’s that bad, I’ll have no respect for the author and will seldom give them another chance.

    The art of proofreading has died. It contributes to the deterioration of the language. People should never write in library books, of course, but a few years ago I read a lovely little book that was otherwise properly proofed except for the use of the word “clamored” for “clambered”. It occurred all the way throughout. I corrected it. Nobody should get away with that.

  • LaSargenta

    *sob* You understand!!!!!

  • LaSargenta

    Actually, occasionally I have found emendations and annotations that have improved my reading experience. It led me to collect books with interesting marginalia. Perhaps I have read some of yours. If so, thank you.

  • Moe Schmoe

    1. Reading articles about ocd. C.
    2 Reading articles about ocd B.
    3. Reading articles about ocd A.

  • Danielm80

    “Literally.” As in: “I am literally going to kill him.”

  • Etana

    Could you use a different term? OCD is a legitimate mental illness. It is not a descriptive term for “being anal”.

  • Kathy_A

    I’m a former proofreader (yes, I got laid off from my job back in 1990; we were the first department laid off, of course), and even worse than typos are just plain misspellings. “It’s” for “its” is my worst pet peeve, because it’s an easy thing to check for–if you’re trying to say “it is,” use the apostrophe. Otherwise, don’t!!!

  • LaSargenta

    Good point.

  • bronxbee

    oh please. aren’t you being a little OCD yourself about that?

  • Etana

    No, but I do actually have OCD and I don’t really appreciate it being used as a descriptive adjective for quirkiness. I’m not bothered by the inaccuracy. I’m bothered by people throwing around the term for a real disease so casually.

  • I don’t think anyone here is indicating in any way that OCD isn’t a legitimate mental illness. I also don’t think we’re dismissing or demeaning in any way people who suffer from it.

    Did you think we were?

    Our language uses lots of medical conditions as metaphors. “That makes me crazy.” “I just about had a heart attack.” We are “blinded” by this or “struck dumb” by that. Are we wrong to use such phrases? I don’t think so. I think they’re useful metaphoric constructions. And I don’t think anyone who says such things is confusing how they feel at that moment with what those suffering from such conditions actually experience.

    “Being anal” (which itself has a more precise psychiatric meaning, if only historically) is not equivalent to the non-medical use of “OCD.” What other phrase would you suggest that would have been better?

  • Etana

    I don’t really know what phrase could replace it. But saying “sets off your OCD” assumes that everyone has OCD. It reduces a legitimate condition into a universal quirk. Imagine saying “what sets off your ADD/Bipolar Disorder/Schizophrenia?”. OCD is not a descriptive term like crazy or blind. It isn’t a good metaphor.

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