phobia |ˈfōbēə| noun
an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something : he had a phobia about being under water | a phobia of germs | a snake phobia.
I don’t know what it’s like to live life in such fear of something that it permeates your thinking, dominates your decisions and limits you to such an extent that everything you do is based on a defensive posture. Fear is a natural thing (I guess) because we all have it to some degree but for a few, it is all consuming and whether it’s a product of a line of thinking we’ve been exposed to or an experience that impacted our life to a great degree I couldn’t say. In my career I’ve seen this first hand on two fronts and I’m not sure which is worse but I know when this pair of phobias collide I’m in for a very intense time.
Fear of pests
This fear is almost as old as time itself. It’s somewhat easy to understand why someone gets scared when a huge spider runs across the floor or a roach is perched up high in a cabinet. Lots of legs, big beady eyes and tails or appendages that imaginations run wild with can send people into an instant tizzy. For the truly phobic it does not need to be a huge hairy bug at all that paralyses their mind however and for these people it may just be the mere thought of one that pushes them over the edge. This truly would be a terrible condition to have because insects out number humans on earth and are literally everywhere so this only adds to the fact that they can’t avoid them and their phobia is compounded by paranoia. For some that are armed with 10 different types of sprays under the cabinet it can become an all out war as they drown the hapless insect in a oily slick of Raid. Most however can’t even bring themselves to move as the tiny insect holds them captive and defenseless. Visions of venomous stingers or six creepy legs fill the mind of a phobic person and horror grips them as the fear causes palpitations and they struggle to breathe. No amount of reason soothes the angst and even the smallest spider that weighs no more than a gram will incapacitate a full grown adult.
Fear of pesticides
This phobia is also common but most only have a healthy degree. A few sadly are gripped with the all consuming thought that chemicals are lingering at every turn and for them, simple daily activity is a constant misery. They see life as a contamination and are always fearful of being exposed. Pest control technicians are often met with sharp tongues and bitter glares when their paths meet. Instant anger fueled by fear can make for a painful encounter on even a routine stop. They arm themselves with worse case scenarios and have facts or talking points that comfort them in their position. Any reasonable thought is quickly shot down using embarrassment as a tool to shut the mouths of those who just don’t see. Passers by may shake their heads and since it is human nature to side with negatives and loud accusation the tech may slink away while his pride hangs on by a thread.
I speak not to diminish or belittle. These are people who need care and love just as we all do and I am only relaying to what extent I’ve witnessed first hand over the years. I’ve been on the receiving end of just such an attack many times and seen large men reduced to rubble with the sight of an earwig or small bug. They say education is the key in pest control but when it comes to phobias I believe it would also take a college degree. For the next few articles I’ll write more on some experiences I’ve had with people I believe suffered from bug and chemical phobias and even one where a seemingly hopeless scenario turned out for the best for a lady who had both I’ve described. That was a showdown of epic proportions and one we all might learn how better to handle, when phobias collide.