Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I need some advice. (also entitled: Please don't think less of me because I over-used parentheses in this post)

I am desperate. I don't know what to do. In a mere 8 weeks, on Fridays, I will share my office with a man sporting terrible BO. How terrible, you ask? This guy used my office for a year while I was on maternity leave. When I returned after Christmas (the office had been vacant for two weeks), the smell lingered.

There is absolutely no possibility of me saying "hey, you stink, why don't you try a shower and some deodorant?" That's just never going to happen. Besides, I guess I should give him the benefit of the doubt that this is some sort of medical problem. I'm sure his wife of 30 years would have tried the "you stink" route by now.

Any suggestions on stink-masking? Scented candles aren't really an option (a scent-free workplace... except BO, apparently), but maybe one of those scent-removing ones would be okay (as long as the fire inspector doesn't catch me). Probably some sort of spray would be better.

Help.

13 comments:

Bronwyn said...

Hmmm.... tough one. I once had a boss who stank (he was from Belgium and apparently deodorant was not part of his daily routine) and he used to lean over my cube with his arms flailed wide so that everyone in adjoining cubes got the full stench treatment. The uber-boss finally had to have a word with him because so many people had complained...

How about bowls of baking soda with a little potpourri on top (to mask the fact that you're giving him the Arm & Hammer treatment)? Certainly no one could complain about that, given the circumstances. It's going to be really distracting if you don't do something. Good luck!

(This is just another example of why I'm glad I work from home :) )

Rosepetal said...

I had a colleague with terrible BO (a woman) and no-one could believe her husband hadn't said anything. To make it worse, she sometimes wore the same clothes as the day before to the office.

You won't like my answer but we just sucked it up. I didn't have to share an office with her - well I did once but it was quite a big one and it wasn't permanent.

Thanks for your comment btw. :-)

Clarabella said...

Hmmmm. This IS a tough one. My dad is German, and so I have met many of his work colleagues over the years who don't use deodorant. And I remember being one of those terrible kids who told my dad his friends stank right in front of them. Good thing they had senses of humor, for the most part (one man told my father he had an impertinent child.)
You could make a cache of potpourri you don't find too strong and take a whiff every time the smell gets to you, but that might be a little obvious. You could eat lots of oranges at your desk and conveniently forget to throw away the peels. They'll soak up a lot of odor in the air. If personal confrontation is not something you're willing to do, you might have to take it to someone higher if you really can't stand it. Is opening a window a possibility? You could tell your officemate you're really sensitive to stale air and lingering odors (without directly indicating him). Is this someone who would take a hint? A hint, that is, thought up by someone more clever than me?
Good luck. (I use lots of parentheses too.)

Anonymous said...

You could be right about the health thing.....My dad had cancer and the radiation treatments caused terrible body odor that no amount of deodorant could ever mask --- he tried, and was aware he smelled :( I agree with the orange peels.....Citrus is powerful, and perhaps you can find a way to place some around your office in an inconspicuous manner......Good Luck.

kate said...

eeeew eeeeww eeeewww i have no idea, but i wish you luck with that!

Pipsylou said...

Wallflowers from Bath and Body works.

Our house always smelled like a colostomy bag before I got those. They are AWESOME.

Anonymous said...

It's kinda hard if you cant have any scents in your office... then potpourri and orange peels won't work. Have you tried Oust? They probably make one that is scentless I imagine... hmm. Best of luck!

Adele Sanoy said...

Talk to him about the health benefits of using zinc supplements.

Works! Just ask google. Works for foot odor too!

Years ago, Ann Landers wrote "Don't stink! Think Zinc!"

Anonymous said...

Belgian people use deoderant. What a silly, racist and ignorant thing to say that they don't. Please, don't use sweeping statememts like this.

Portraits In Sepia said...

Talk to HR! This is definitely and issue to bring up. I know several people that have talked to HR about a coworker they worked closely with who had intolerable BO. That's what HR (or whoever serves in place of Human Resources) is for.
Oh, and the comment about Belgians not using deodorant is NOT racist. It's just a generalization (which is not even as bad as a stereotype) so RELAX people! "Racist" is an overused word and true racism goes way beyond and is much uglier than just stating that Belgians (or whoever) don't use deodorant. GET a GRIP!! Nobody was ever lynched for not using deodorant.

kate said...

I'm sure Belgians do use deodorant. So do French people. You would think, riding the metro, that they do not. Actually the problem in France is that French deodorant *does not work*. When we lived there, i had to import my deodorant from the States.

Clarabella said...

Um, I said I knew Germans who either didn't use deodorant or didn't use effective deodorant, and no one attacked me. So why the hate for Bronwyn? She didn't say BELGIANS didn't use deodorant, she said one guy she knew from Belgium didn't seem to. Anyhoo, calm down, folks. Hell, I use deodorant everyday and sometimes I end up stinking. This is not about race (p.s. Belgian isn't a race anyway). Sheesh.

Pipsylou said...

Oooh ooh! You got a PCP troll! (Political Correctness Police). They are usually anonymous.

I'm wondering if it's the same person who got her panties in a knot because I described someone as a "big black lady"? Apprently descriptions are no longer acceptable if they involve race.

PLEASE!

- a paper-white cracker from the Midwest