Fear and Fitbit

I recently overcame two lifelong fears – agoraphobia and arachnophobia. That’s the fear of leaving home and the fear of spiders. For years I spent a fortune on pest control.

These afflictions were made even more soul-crushing by my family’s attempts to help. You see, I’m Italian and my people believe that any problem can be solved with food. That’s the ultimate remedy for everything. Common cold, severed limb – Parmesan! Oh, Little Johnny’s got the black plague? Get him a meatball sandwich. That’ll fix him.

Thanks to their devotion, I got huge. This only made my problems worse because then I was too slow to run from the spiders and literally too big to leave the house.

That’s when a friend got me a Fitbit. Actually, he called it a Fatbit, but he said, “not-for-nothing,” when he handed me the contraption so that made the remark okay from a cultural standpoint.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the default setting on those things is 10,000 steps – 10,000! On the first day I got 37. Not 3,700 – 37. Fear had transformed me into a human paperweight. Well, fear and sandwiches.

The tally was eye-opening and truly changed my perspective. I got excited. I got motivated. I got the laundry…off the treadmill that is, and I started walking. Over time I began to see results and I committed to my goals. I was so committed that I even refused my grandmother’s lasagna ¬¬– a perilous prospect if ever there was one.

A few months later that same friend told me it was time to face fear number one and leave the house. I was still nervous, but I knew I needed to change. “What do you have in mind – a walk around the block or something?” I asked.


“What then?”

“A date.”

“Look Vito, you’re a handsome man, but I just don’t feel that way.”

“Not with me stupid. I got a girl for you. She’s…ah, interesting. Guaranteed to keep your mind off your issues. So, go. Have fun.”

He’d been right so far so I went over to pick her up. Well, I didn’t pick her up. She was big too, but I met her. Of course, all my romantic inclinations had atrophied so I forgot to actually plan the date. I just kinda showed up. She was nice enough about it, so I asked, “what do you want to you?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “What do you want to do?”

We Abbot and Costelloed around for about ten minutes till I finally suggested we walk…for ice cream. Life’s a give and take, folks.

So, we’re walking, and I make a little conversation. You know. What do you do for work? What do you do for fun? That sort of thing. Anyway, I’m on the fun part, when she says, “Well, I used to play a lot of tennis, but ever since I cut my finger off, I don’t play as much.”

Now my inner voice starts shouting, “Don’t look! Don’t look!” So what do I do? I look of course. And sure enough, her finger’s there but it’s all mangled and sewn on Raggedy Ann style.

But I to play it cool. I haven’t been out of the house in two years, but I’m cool. I’m cool. I scream something like, “Oh my God! What happened?”

She brushes off my panic and says, “Oh, it’s no big deal. It’s my fault really. I shouldn’t have touched the electric fence.”

And so, I inquire, as one would, “Where were you that there was an electric fence?”

And she said, “Well, last year my fiancé left me…at the alter…for my brother…and I just needed to go to a place where I could get in touch with the inner me, really find my center, and become one with the person I am.”

And I asked, “an institution?”

“Well, if you want to be negative about it,” she huffed.

It was then I discovered jogging.

I Forest Gumped my way out the door and into one sexy beast of a man. Soon I was nimble and quick, confident and strong, able to overcome any obstacle, remove any barrier…face any fear. And there was one left if you recall, so I took my buddy’s advice once again and met it head on. I got a white coat, a helmet with a light, and I became……an Orkin Man.


Tim Toterhi is the author of several books including: Life Aches: In and Out of the Fishbowl and Both Sides of Broken.