Sunday, January 01, 2006

What's That Smell?

I have a photo posted in my cubicle - alas, I work in a cubicle, but at least I have a window - a photo probably taken in the 1930's, of a coal miner, with a bird in a cage. I consider that a photo of my alter ego. The canary, not the miner. As you all undoubtedly know, canaries were used in coal mines to detect bad air. You see, I am quite sensitive to odors, especially chemical or perfume. Bad smells in the office seem to bother me more than anyone else. One source of smells is a garage below the office, but one office denizen carries the smell of cigarette smoke around with him, and I have had to set up a fan to blow his ... aroma ... away.

I can't find any reference to the ban on perfumes in theaters of which a friend speaks, but I do recall hearing something about it. It may be an excessive reaction if it is a no-tolerance policy. However, I think there is a chemical difference between body odor and perfume odor, not that I find either pleasant. A little bit of scent is one thing, but some people seem to bathe in the stuff, and when you can smell them coming a mile away, that's worth banning. And perhaps theaters would be justified in ejecting people with excessive body odor. That one might be for a court to decide.

Some people are desensitized to what others consider "bad" smells. The smokers and former smokers in my office don't seem to notice odors as readily as I do. Presumably they killed off their sense of smell with smoke.

I do find it unfortunate that people who raise objections to indoor smoking (before it was driven outside where it belongs) and excessive perfume are made the subject of ridicule. It's disturbing that some people cannot understand, or pretend not to understand, that chemical vapors in the air we breathe is a problem.

So give the canaries a break, or at least a little understanding.


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