Assigning Compulsive Behaviors To Staff
In the early 1940s his obsession with germs became so out of control that he insisted on using several tissues as insulation between himself and germs when picking items up. He would spot imperfections, stains and/or dust on someone’s clothing and demand that the problem be taken care of.
He also began to “assign" his compulsive behaviors to his staff. He had a complex set of instructions for them regarding the handling of objects. For example, before a servant could hand Hughes a spoon the handle had to be wrapped in tissue paper, sealed with cellophane tape and a second piece of tissue had to be wrapped around the first piece. When the spoon was given to Hughes he would use it only with a covered handle.
Other bizarre instructions for his staff included the details for removing his hearing-aid from a bathroom cabinet. Before it could be removed staff had to use between six and eight new tissues as a barrier when turning the bathroom door knob, then they had to throw away the tissues, and use six to eight new tissues for opening the cabinet and removing a new bar of soap. Then they had to wash their hands with the new soap, use six to eight new tissues to reopen the cabinet door and remove the hearing-aid. The hearing-aid which was in a sealed envelope was to then be removed with both hands and fifteen tissues in each hand.
To open a can of food, members of staff were instructed to use their bare hands and turn on the bathtub faucet, adjust the water to a warm temperature, use a brush and one of two specials soap bars to create a lather and remove the label from the can. The label had to be removed two inches from the top of the can, and then the can was soaked to remove all dust, dirt and germs. After this, the bottom of the can had to be cleaned in the same manner as the top. Staff members were not permitted to put the can down under any circumstance. The indentations of the can had to be thoroughly scrubbed with soap and rinsed.