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The “Stinkers” at My Office

December 6, 2010

So last night I couldn’t sleep. I was up until well past 1 a.m. So I slept in until the very last minute this morning. As I was leaving my apartment with barely enough time to drive to the office I went to my car — which has a flat tire. (How the heck am I going to fix that? I mean is it safe to change a tire on that kind of an incline? I’m not doing anything that might result in me having to chase my car down that hill again. Although I do have full coverage right now…hummmm)

So, I walked to work. And I was late. And the whole office was having a meeting right next to my desk so everyone knows that I was late. For shame.

To add nausea to shame, this morning every time one of the women in my office walks past my desk I feel like I’m going to puke because they all reek of perfume. (Perfume that stinks I might add — why are there so many women in the world trying to make themselves smell bad?) And the new girl who sits across from me — like 3-5 feet away — uses some kind of lotion that makes me feel like I’m getting stabbed in the eye.

I sent an e-mail to the HR guy about the “personal scents” in the office:

It has gotten to the point that they aren’t personal. I can smell them when many of them are within 20 feet of me. Even when they simply walk past my desk – which they all do constantly because I sit by the office printer and the restroom. The truth is I do find the fact that I can smell them when I am not in their personal space to be rude and offensive. But the larger issue is that I have rather severe allergies.

Usually taking my doctor-prescribed medicine is enough to stave off the effects (beyond just not wanting to smell someone’s personal scent when I’m not in an intimate situation with them). However, in the past few months the perfumes in the office have gotten to the point that on some days I cannot breathe once I walk into my department and at least once a week  I am sick and need to lie down during my lunch hour. Furthermore, the cumulative effect of being exposed to this throughout the week has been for me to be sick on Friday afternoons and well into the evenings and weekends.

It is my practice to leave the building several times a day during my personal break time, in part to escape from these scents and get a bit of fresh air, but it is no longer enough to stave off the effects. At this point these perfumes are interfering with my work as well as my personal life. I have been here for about an hour and 15 minutes this morning and my sinuses have already swollen to the point that I can barely breathe through my nose, I have a headache, my eyes are itchy and watery and my shoulders at the base of my neck feel like I am being stabbed.

This makes it rather difficult to concentrate fully on my work. Furthermore, I feel as I often do prior to a migraine headache attack and I am afraid that I will be suffering from such an attack by this afternoon or this evening.

Of course my company doesn’t have a policy on this; which sucks because I don’t know what to do about it. My HR person suggested I ask my boss to move my desk. I don’t really like that solution.

I wish I could just ask people not to wear the damn perfume. Or at least not to wear as much of it. But there’s a problem with that. I have been diagnosed with allergies since I was 19 and in the past 12 years I have had occasion to try to tell people that I find their perfumes to be offensive and/or that they are irritating my allergies, but people respond as though I have said their faces are offensive and/or irritating.

I’m sorry that you like smelling like burnt sugar. I’d rather not have to smell you. But I get treated like I’m insane and evil when I suggest they not bathe in Bath and Body lotions on a regular basis. That’s right, I’m the bad guy.

But if it were a noise that these people were making all day that I could hear from 20 feet away it would be perfectly reasonable to ask them to stop — right?

Oi. My head hurts. Another stinker just walked by.

Happy Monday.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 11:28 am

    This might be a bit passive-aggressive (though funny, if you ask me), but I think you should start wearing a surgical mask at work.


  2. December 6, 2010 3:17 pm

    I’m right with you on this – we had air fresheners in restrooms at work which felt like they took a layer of skin off my throat if somebody had used them within the previous hour. I managed to get them removed (I’m lucky to have a very supportive boss) but I still have to avoid certain areas and rush through the stairwell when certain people douse themselves with deodorant in a restroom. It seems that those people whose bodies don’t react badly to these things just don’t realise that some of us have real problems when inhaling them.


  3. December 7, 2010 9:36 pm

    Strong smells give me terrible headaches. I can’t even step foot into a Yankee Candle or Bath & Body Works store without getting a headache and possibly sick to my stomach. I was in Abercrombie & Fitch tonight getting a Christmas gift, and they had this AWFUL cologne wafting through the place. When I was checking out, they said “Have you tried our X cologne and perfume? You must try it!” I was like, “Is that what I smell? Because it’s horrific. You guys really should chill out with spraying so much of it in this small space. It’s making me feel sick.” I wasn’t trying to be a bitch, it just sort of came out. The poor sales guy looked like I had kicked his dog. Ugh. Honesty gets you nowhere 🙂


  4. Naeem Akram Malik permalink
    December 8, 2010 3:21 pm

    Look Crystal, I am afraid if your HR somehow bannishes “ultra high perfumication” in office, you will be having problems with the natural bad smells of your colleagues… Cause when someone pours half a bottle of colonge on, surely he/she’s did not bath in a year or so :p. I thing you better wear a war grade gas mask, instead of surgical mask…


  5. December 17, 2010 5:11 am

    It seems the idea of having a bath is alien to your co-workers who are using perfumes. Wearing a Gasmask to your workplace would be a relief 😉


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