Skip to comments.Sure, Hold Your Nose, But Colleagues Odors Pose Serious Problem
Posted on 07/21/2004 9:16:51 AM PDT by BluegrassScholar
Larry Isaacson's nose is so sensitive to perfume that he gets woozy, loses his appetite and can develop an itchy rash that blooms behind his ears when he is exposed to it.
So when a colleague recently slathered on perfume that emanated well beyond her personal space, Mr. Isaacson found himself employing his usual tactics. They include avoidance, which means standing several feet away from the cloud and holding his breath until it passes. If trapped in close proximity for an extended time, he breathes through his mouth. And his most passive tactic, which sometimes works best: waiting for someone else to go through the embarrassment of notifying the offender.
This time he also held an impromptu meeting in the kitchen with several sympathetic colleagues and tried to brainstorm some smell strategies for the future, including screening smelly people during the interview process.
"It should be treated like smoking," he argues. "There should be signs."
Perfume isn't the only second-hand smell that harms indoor air quality. Any body odors strong enough to spread beyond their perpetrators' cubicles are bound to upset colleagues. Unfortunately, options for dealing with them are awkward. It isn't simply that no one wants to hurt a colleague's feelings. It's also the knowledge that you will see the offender -- and he or she will see you -- forever, and neither of you will be able to forget the torturous conversation. As a result, many people just frown and bear the discomfort, forced into one of the office's countless endurance tests.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Here we go!!!!!!
Once, a new co-worker was eating a burger for lunch, and a piece of onion fell into his shirt pocket, undetected. It stayed in his pocket all day, and--warmed by his body heat--began to smell just like B.O. This guy was VERY nice and VERY put together and well-groomed, and the secretaries in the office were torturing themselves about whether they should mention it or not, when he came out of his office red-faced with the piece of onion in his hand to confess to all that he was wondering to himself why he stunk so bad.
Otherwise, I haven't really had a problem with smelly co-workers--but try going to the public library.......
I once cared for a man with asbestosis who couldn't tolerate any perfume smell on any of his nurses...you couldn't wear scented deoderant or lotion. Really made me aware as a novice nurse...I remained careful of this throughout my entire career.
In the office-type cube-city workplaces, I would think common courtesy would prevail, but alas...
something here doesnt' pass the smell test...
Try working with these guys.
I'd MUCH rather have perfumed or smoking colleagues than unwashed/sweaty/farting co-workers.
My first roommate weighed in at 300+ pounds. Who cares, right? I didn't... until I found out that at that weight, she made the room smell like one giant walking armpit. Sure she showered regularly but she really needed to shower 4 times a day to keep up with the stink. Very pleasant--NOT!
Boy! What a bunch of "girley men." geeeeeesh
What the 'ell are being raised today? People are just too damn sensitive when out and about with other people that DO live on this earth as well!!!
What kills me is nail polish remover, for some reason. That stuff is pure poison. Once some woman sitting near me on a plane decided to "do" her nails and I thought I was a goner -- my lungs felt like they were on fire.
Ping for later read!
I worked with a smelly guy, Big, fat, sweaty, massive B.O... We tried verything subtle to get the point across, such as leaving anti-perspirant/deodorant in his cubicle when he was gone etc... Nothing worked, and he never got the hint. I always dreaded having him in my cubicle when we were working on stuff together... Finaly, I couldn't stand it any longer.
I just took to walking into his cubicle to say "Hi! How's it going?" whenever I needed to break wind...
I have a co-worker from India who eats a great deal of cumin. As well as curry, of course. I don't think he's discovered anti-perspirant, or else he is too cheap to purchase it. So anywhere he is begins to take on this curry stink, and when he gets excited he starts to exude it from his pores. It's really quite nauseating. His wife works with us too and she slathers on the Impulse Body Spray like it's going out of style. I'm surprised he lets her use so much because I doubt he would want to be asked to let her purchase it more than once a year or so. That $3.99 will break the bank dont'cha know. Once he said she's always wanting new clothes. For Pete's sake he had just let her buy a new dress not 18 months before.
A little constructive dieting can give you a very powerful self-defense shield with which to drive away annoying yuppies babbling into their cell phones next to your desk and almost any other type of human annoyance.
I vote with you, except in the cases of co-workers that deliberately wait to pass gas until the elevator doors shut.
I worked with a guy like that, he was a nice guy in every other way once you learned to not get on the elevator with him. He used to come into the office chuckling, "Boy, they really climbed the elevator walls this time!"
When I was preganant, smells really got to me. During the first one, there was a guy in the shop who took "Elvis showers" He had walked into my space, and when the colone hit me I thought I was going to die. When he saw me pale, he got closer, all concerned, Are you OK?.... ack!!
I ran passed him into the bathroom, and did just what I thought I was going to do :)
Everyone in the shop was so mad at him for making me sick, and he was so sorry. He never did it again, and several people there learned a valuble lesson in the "over-cologne" department.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy..............
Sorry, but after spending half of my working life underground and the next half negotiating (on behalf of the company) working conditions among other things, this seems absurd and part of another reality to me.
Try being a manager who has to talk with an employee about their perfume/body-odor!
Did we work together? That sounds like me ;0)
I worked in a warehouse once pushing a dolly and pulling boxes from the maze of asiles. There were a dozen of us doing this when a new guy was hired. He was a country pumpkin who smelled like he hadn't had a bath in months.
We could tell from his lingering odor what asiles he had been on 5 minutes after he had left them.
We complained to the management enmass and the supervisor called him and and told him to take a bath before coming into work the next day. He never showed up.
Many years ago, I was quite young, and ignorant. I went to work with perfume on. The cook at the restaurant who was the store manager starts screaming, "What is that stench?" I was uninformed about his allergy, and found out the hard way.
I was very hurt, and embarassed. It has kind or cured me from wearing much of any scent. From that point on, I would just shower with soaps or gels of little scent, and threw out all my perfumes.
It has been a long time, and I have never forgotten this. I am very careful not to offend, but you can't please everyone, so I have learned in my years of experience.
I once had a temporary employee working at a client of ours. The client called me and told me that they didn't want her back due to her "offensive odor". They didn't offer much more by way of details, so I gathered what I could, and prepared to counsel the employee.
She came into my office the next day to be counseled on the loss of her job. I approached the subject in a round-about way, tip-toeing around the issue. I couldn't just come out and say, "They think you stink! Take a bath!".
But, I asked her, "You know...sometimes someone's 'personal scent' can put other people off. Were you wearing a heavy perfume or something that day that might have affected someone?"
She thinks about it for a minute, leans in, then says, "Oooh, you know what it might have been Joe...I think I forgot to change my pad that day.."
**end retch alert**
Well, these people must be raised in a barn. What ever happened to common sense and courtesy?
Like the one poster above: a woman decided to do her nails on a PLANE? How asinine is that!
It wasn't you unless you have a Ph.D in geophysics from the University of California at Riverside. But thanks for the warning in case we ever meet in a building with elevators.:)
I used to work for my cities electric company. Part of the office consisted of a drive-thru area set up just like a bank would have. The room was maybe 5'7' and only had room for two small desks, a chair and small bookcase. One of our cashiers must have had a phobia of soap,water and toothpaste. One of our other cashiers was forced to sit in this small, locked room with him for hours at a time.
I'm in S. Florida so this gives you an idea of how hot we get and how much sweat is possible.
There were times I'd go into the drive-thru and literally gag at the smell. Finally, I'd had enough, and the other cashier was about to leave if something wasn't done about her co-workers order. I went to the director and supervisor about the problem and neither would do a thing about it, let alone just ask this particular employee to PLEASE shower and brush his teeth.
Not long after that, I left working there (amid other severe problems that went on). The other cashier stayed after finding out her co-worker was being transfered to another department.
You beat me to it; we're turning into a nation of chronic complainers who nonetheless can't bring ourselves to confront our problems, so we want "a law"!!
LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ewwww, gross!
That is nasty
How were you supposed to know he had an allergy. I'll bet money he didn't. You were his scape goat for the day.
There is nothing wrong with perfume as long as you don't bathe in it. It certainly is better than having BO.
There was a girl on our hall my freshman year of college who had a serious foot odor problem. Her roommate tried to endure it, but finally had to have a serious talk with her. Fortunately, the "stinker" took it graciously and took all possible steps to ameliorate the problem.
I knew I misspelled it the second I hit "enter." Oh well. You know what I mean. :)
That phrase then became a running joke in our office.
"Mike's out sick today."
"Why? Did he forget to change his pad?"
*insert riotous laughter here*
I left there about 2 years ago, but I still keep in touch with one of my former co-workers. He says the phrase is still used to this day!
Now, these boys come from a culture that does not value daily showers or deodorant, and to make it worse they would go out on their lunch hour and play soccer very hard for an hour before coming back to their desks. And they would eat a lot of curry. The effect was bad enough to knock you down. Then they would wonder why the American girls didn't like them, even though they were tall, blond, gorgeous, and had six-figure incomes. They were all nice as pie, too. But they were lonely and becoming increasingly depressed by their near-continual rejection.
I had to explain to them, lovingly, that no American woman would look at them unless they started showering EVERY day and using deodorant. They thought this was very effeminate. Clearly clean American men were not as manly as they were, since everyone knows stink is masculine!
Wouldn't you know it, one of them--the geekiest of them--found a gorgeous, angelic American girl who thought his stink was nice. (They got married after a few months together and have been happily married for fifteen years.) Their relationship immediately persuaded all the other Dutchmen that it wasn't really, really necessary to go through all that nonsense about showering in order to get a pretty American girl, so they went back to stinking.
I'll tell you, being in an elevator with a bunch of smoking, reeking Dutchmen is enough to make you pass out. I love the Dutch, and the women are dainty and smell just fine, but some of the men just do not get it.
Perfume allergies are more common than we realize, I think. In our church choir, the director always reminds us not to wear perfume because being close together and singing really affects one of the members - and it isn't me because I never said anything.
I have always had a bad reaction to perfume. Usually I get a horrid headache within minutes if it is pretty strong, or close by. Sometimes I get nauseated. If it is added to soaps, shampoo, detergents, I will break out in a rash. So do a few of our kids. My mother always used to get mad at me when I was young because of it. But it isn't exactly something I could help.
Age has tamed it down somewhat, but I am still fairly sensitive to it and other chemical smells too.
My only bad experience with a co-worker was at my first job in radio. He was nice enough, but was about 5'3" and weighed well over 300lbs. There was not one DJ at either the AM or FM station that wanted to man the booth after this guy finished his shift.cans of Lysol and deodorant left in the studios were met by him with oblivion - he had no clue. And no one had the cojones to say anything to his face about it.
He got a clue shortly after he started helping out in the news department when we were a person short. One day he complained to the other newsperson about the ashtray in there and actually brought in a portable smoke eater. I had no problem with the thing because it actually removed much of the stench of his BO from the room, but was a bit torqued about the fact he only complained about smoking in the news room and not any of the other studios.
One day he made a serious mistake - he demanded I stop smoking in the newsroom. I let him have it with both barrels about what everyone else in the entire place was putting up with him and his poor hygiene. He truly had no clue why there was always Lysol, Air Freshener and deodorant cans in all the studios. I became a hero at the station because his hygiene improved immensely following that altercation.........and I continued to smoke in the news room!!!
What was really and truly sad, was that his wife and 7 kids all had equally poor hygiene. At the time he was studying to become a minister and left the radio station about 6 months later.....I always prayed that his congregation would not have to suffer what we did at the radio station.
I vote with you, except in the cases of co-workers that deliberately wait to pass gas until the elevator doors shut.
Ha! It seems that I often get on an empty elevator just after the "phantom farter" has departed. I'm on the top floor, so as the elevator goes down and someone else gets on and wrinkles their nose, I want to shout, "but I didn't do it! I didn't do it!"
We have a friend whose wife told me he cannot tolerate perfume and even make-up with fragrances, so out of courtesy I avoid perfume when we get together with them. I think being in closer proximity to people/industrial things has made many more people MORE sensitive now.....where in the past we had the wide open spaces.....and less perfumed fragrances also.
I must disagree. I developed a terrible allergy/migraine trigger to scent.
I used to wear perfume when I was younger, and I do miss it a lot. I have to use scent-free dryer sheets, laundry soap, etc. Otherwise ,I get terribly congested and am left with a headache to die for, which can go on for more than a day.
Mind you, I can handle gasoline smells, car exhaust, and cigarette smoke with no problems.
It ia terribly difficult to bring up people, but I manage to do so. I've never had anyone get upset with me.
And I too have learned the art of not breathing when stuck in an elevator.
BTW - the amount someone is wearing isn't indicative of anything. At one client, I was getting bad headaches every time I talked with this one woman who never wore perfume. I mentioned it to her one day, she pulled out some scented handlotion I could barely smell, and my headache kicked in. The next few days, she didn't put any on, and there was no headache. So, it's the molecules in the air that enter your bloodstream, not necessarily what you can smell. I have to say that as I get older, I am starting to be able to tolerate some scents, but it is slow going.
I'm still searching for a link, but I'm pretty sure someone set up an electronic B.O. notification site. You just provide the recipient's email address and they get a nice message that says, to the effect, "a good friend of yours wanted to pass along the information that you are emitting some pretty bad body odor; you may want to take steps to eliminate it."
It's a great idea. You could also print this thread out and leave it on the offender's desk, if necessary.
One on ones with him were bad enough by themselves, but fermented bean breath is lethal at 10 feet.
I have really bad asthma, had it all my life. Certain perfumes can cause my broncial tree to go haywire and close off tight.
Not fun to end up in the emergency room because of the old lady two people behind you at the grocery store checkout.
One more "stinky" story. When my mom got colon cancer, her breath became so bad, it was hard to be in the room with her. Also, you couldn't go near the bathroom for hours after she'd used it. When the cancer was discovered, all of the odor problem made sense.
Years later, I was working in the same office w/ a man with same bad breath & heaven help you if you were anywhere in the building when he passed gas. All I could do was remember my mother & I really wanted to ask him if he'd had a colon scan, but he really was a sweet person and I just didn't know how to approach him. Well, after he retired, another co-worker told me that he had to have his colon removed because of cancer.
Yes, I do feel guilty for no saying anything!!
That story is really, really gross, but your tag line is really, really funny.
I have a client, a nice old lady who is getting gaga, who doesn't have a phone, so I have to go to her house to work on her case. She has a dog that she lets pee everywhere, and two cats whose litter box she never cleans, and there are dirty dishes and dirty clothes everywhere. Sad thing is, her daughter, who is mentally competent, lives with her but won't lift a finger to do housework, so bringing in the county wouldn't work.
Whenever I visit her and then leave, it feels like my skin is saturated with the aroma down to the pores, and my hair smells like it, too.
Just remembered one I had suppressed -- I once had a boss with rotten teeth. Many, many rotten teeth. Black, with gigantic holes. Talk about horrible breath!
I was new and being trained, and spent a lot of "face time" with him.I had to quit after two weeks, I couldn't take it.
Larry Isaacson sounds mentally ill to me.
I am blessed to have only 1 allergy that I know of and I don't have to use the product. I really feel for the suffers of nasty allergies and if I know of it, I will do my best to help avoid the cause.