Taking a Road Trip with Someone with OCD

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In my heart, I love road trips. I love seeing how others live because it gives me perspective on how to improve myself. And that pretty much is where we’re going here—travel, with my OCD, is work. Even the most pleasurable aspect is a destination and not a journey.

Let’s go on a road trip.

We start with packing for our—let’s say three-day—trip. Well, there is always the chance of a major bodily accident randomly happening in the middle of nowhere. That, while in reality being somewhere in the neighborhood of a one-in-ten-thousand chance, I’m going to bring double the underwear I need. My OCD forces me to see every eventuality, and I just went somewhere rather disgusting, to begin with. But it happens to people, and I feel almost fulfilled knowing that if it happens to me, I am prepared.

Then there is always the chance of it raining so much it floods to ankle level. This can happen. You go ahead and research the likelihood, I’ll pack eight pairs of socks and a second pair of shoes.

I also do not know what sort of mood I’ll be in for clothes. I have no sense of fashion, I wear almost exclusively t-shirts and shorts. But they all have some sort of meaning, even if I insist on them being solid-colored. May as well bring enough black as well enough of the earth tones. Those, by the way, are the extent of my moods-conveyed-through-fashion. But I need them both present.

Are we ready to go yet? We’re going. I’ve not annoyed you yet, as I’ve kept all of the previous compulsions to myself. Though I have a rather heavy suitcase. Oh, I also have every toiletry and medication one can imagine needing, plus every book I am reading. The latter—five, if you care to know. Now you do.

I don’t think you really need to stretch your mind to see what comes next, and I’ll keep it short. Now is where we check that we have everything. By we, I mean I check and now you get annoyed. I have to check in order: wallet (shorts right front); keys, my current pack of cigarettes, lighter (shorts left front), phone (hip), glasses (my face of course), and nothing in my back pockets because that is how stuff gets both stolen and lost.

So that’s four things. That doesn’t seem right. It should be five. Oh, I forgot, I changed my placement of items so that my cigarettes are no longer in my top shirt pocket. So it used to be five places to check and now is four. Let’s do that over again to make sure, as there is no turning back and we may as well be sure: shorts right front, shorts left front, glasses… crap. Wrong order. shorts right front, shorts left front, hip, glasses, good. Ready. I’ll check all of that again once the keys have breached the safety of my pocket and are used in locking up.

That is my job. I do not trust you with that. I don’t mean any offense—that is important to note. I have to lock up because for the entire three days I must have the image of my own self locking and checking the door ready to relive in my mind to help me alleviate the concerns I’ll have that the door is not locked. If I do it, I have the mental picture. If you lock up, I don’t trust the mental picture.

Ok, we’re not ready yet (did you think we would be?). I need the constant ability to get onto any of my work servers remotely from anywhere, so on my phone and tablet I need to check to make sure I can connect to:


And finally, I need to make sure I can connect to my home computer and ping it to make sure it is running. Now, this is not a working vacation per se. I mean, I am always in communication with people working for me, I have to be… but I have promised you a true vacation and plan on sticking to it. Connecting to the servers will be in case of emergency and connecting to my home computer? Well, that is different.

You see, I know that if someone breaks into the house (which logically is completely possible—even probable to me—no matter how many times I check the locks and do all the things to not make it obvious we’re going on vacation) they will steal the computer first. So, if I can—while we are traveling—connect to the computer through my home business cable company has given me… I know the computer is running there, and thus no one has broken in.

Expect me to check this hourly. This will also mean your stuff is not stolen. Probably. Most likely.

Oh, you’re driving. I don’t drive. Anxiety. That means less freaking out about everyone on the road, which is more pleasurable for both of us. Note I said “less” and not “no.” I’m also not a great passenger. I don’t really trust you, I just trust you more than I do myself to drive.

I also know that if we get pulled over, you’ll probably handle yourself like any normal person would. Another reason I don’t drive is I fear getting pulled over, overthinking everything, being just a tad too nice, and being mistaken for someone who clearly is doing something wrong—and thus having the entire car searched for illicit things. This is an odd paranoia to have because I hate drugs and I do not have a gun. I’m convinced if pulled over, I would enter the world of wrongful conviction somehow. I truly believe that because this is possible, this is probable—which is the epitome of OCD. Welcome to it!

Oddly enough the trip itself will be remarkable or unremarkable on its own merits. The only thing that will be different is all of the above, everything I’ve described, I will have to do over at every stop along the way. And I like making a lot of stops—I actually like random and meaningless-seeming places. I learn from them. But I have to be safe. And to be safe, I have to repeat the aforementioned each time we get back on the road to continue to our next destination.

You see, the destinations are the important thing. Making sure everything is going smoothly and right is the important thing. The journey just annoys me. I merely seek to have this whole trip as a memory. A good one! But I wish, all along, for it to be a memory of the past rather than something of the present. Fun guy, huh?

Oh, I also don’t trust that GPS is correct. Prepare for that to be a thing.