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Human nature puzzles me; so often I just don't get it.  Sometimes I wonder if I am from an alien planet in that I expect more or better.  Here's an example...
It is well known to family, friends and coworkers that I am very allergic to scents of any kind, be it perfume, candles, toiletries, laundry detergent, or cigarette smoke, even some flowers.  It's not that I don't love things that smell good, I do!  Rather it's that a whiff of something like this is enough to make my eyes burn, my head ache, my throat sore, and my lungs wheeze.  I wish I wasn't that way.  It's a nuisance, a real pain in the butt, and at times it makes my life miserable, such as when I am in a meeting or concert seated next to someone who bathed in French whorehouse cologne.  :-/
Every place I've worked it's been a problem.  I've carefully and humbly explained, asked, pleaded and begged folks not to indulge in strong perfume, aftershave or lotions, potpourri, candles,  scent burners, etc.  I have to clarify and attempt to convince that that being allergic is not always marked by coughing and sneezing, the response can be much more internal and less visible to others.   With each new coworker, I've had to go through the same routine.  Yet time after time I have had to approach someone again for having keeping an electric scent burner going all day in their office, or something similar.  It's embarrassing, it's humiliating, and it's really darned annoying. 
I can suffer in silence and sit there wheezing and feeling miserable, or I can say something - once again - and garner indifferent responses if not rolled eyes or downright annoyance.  People seem to take this very personally and I don't begrudge anyone their desire to smell nice or have their office smell nice, but if I knew that my doing so made life miserable for someone else, I think one request would be enough.  And no... moving it from one wall of your office to another doesn't help if I can smell it clear down the hall in my office and all the way out to the elevators in the hallway!
People get used to the scents they use, and so become unaware of how strong they can be or how pervasive they can be.  Unfortunately, I've also been gifted with a really acute sense of smell and can often smell things others don't.  This just makes it all the worse.  People tend to think I am saying that I don't care for their particular choice of scent, though I am quick to assure them that I think it smells really nice and I wish I found enjoy it like they do. 
Once again this past week I had to walk into someone's office and request that she turn off her scent burner for awhile so that I could breathe a bit easier in my office.  Then I get the cold treatment for the rest of the day.  It makes me never want to leave home, the only environment I have control over; it makes me afraid to attend social functions that are bound to be rife with colognes and aftershave.  It makes me feel like a leper when I have to ask people not to do something they enjoy.   Yet I can't honestly say as I have ever continued to do something that I knew for certain made someone else suffer, even if it was fun for me.  It's just not my style to be that indifferent.  I am puzzled by people who are.   Am I being unreasonable?  What other choice do I have? 

This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are proper and puzzle.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!


  1. I haven't been in an office setting for many years, but I would have been quite annoyed if people had those scented things plugged in. I'm not allergic, but have mercy, they can be overpowering real quick! My stepmom has some in her house, and it's like a slap in the face when you enter the house. I would outlaw them in offices if I could. I'm with you. I find it quite rude that people still use them even when you have asked them politely not to.what would the rule be if someone blared music in his office? Would management shut that down?

  2. We have friends who are both allergic to perfumes. The husband often will have to leave church if someone has it really loaded on. Because of them, I've pretty well abandoned the use of perfumes out of respect for others.

  3. I am amazed your workplace allows staff to bring such things in. That is as bad as smoking!

  4. An allergy is an allergy, and they should respect your allergy. One lady i know works in an office where all such things are banned, and people are told to use unscented deodorants, shampoos, laundry detergent, and etc. If they come in and have any scent at all, they are sent home to bathe and change clothes, it's not tolerated.

    As i once heard someone say, "Nice scent, must you marinate in it?" That's often the trouble, the people have to marinate in it.

  5. Life gives us enough reasons to be puzzled :)
    Nicely shared, Josie.
    People indeed get attached to their scents- they are oblivious while the outsiders/others realize how strong those scents are!

  6. This is truly a problem that isn't discussed much, so good job for bringing it to light. I am one that is a mix of all of these things - I do love good-smelling things, candles especially, but some of them do irritate (cinnamon ones are the worst for me!). I have pretty much given up wearing perfumes because of what is in them and prefer essential oils (in moderation). Those plug in smelly things? I don't get it - they are WAY too strong and I can't imagine someone plugging one of those things into a small space such as an office. It is bad enough that I am highly sensitive to mold but must endure daily an office riddled with it. I have two air purifiers going full blast (both bought by me - expense, including the replacement filters) and it is tough, so I couldn't imagine forcing a scent on a place such as the office. Seriously. What in the world?

    Hope it gets better for you!

  7. As I fellow allergy sufferer, I feel your pain, Josie. It's terrible, isn't it? And I will never understand, like you said, why people can't just be decent and sensitive to it. When did we stop being respectful of other people's comfort? I find it truly bothersome that when you explain it is a medical issue, a question of physical well-being, that people can't be more understanding and compassionate. It happened to me where I used to work (not about smells, but other issues) and it was downright offensive. One supervisor, if we can just use that term, told me it was my responsibility to take a medical leave of absence if I couldn't handle the environment.
    Do not get me started.
    You are not unreasonable to think that basic courtesy should be practiced.

  8. The office building I used to work in was a scent free zone -- or, at least they requested that people go very easy. I mean, you could use hairspray... but scented lotion, hair spray and perfume all together (besides probably being a toxic bath) is a bit scent much! most people were just fine with it.

    I save my perfume for those special occasions when I am out. Or at home if I just feel like it. Rarely do I put it in if I am going to be around a lot of people, and especially not in small spaces. I would never burn a scent candle in an office setting! Besides from being rude and forcing my scent on everyone else -- pretty sure that's a fire hazard??

  9. Yes, it is a puzzle when people are plain inconsiderate. I think you handle it properly but, some people are rude. If they don't respect you, which they aren't if they are making you miserable, I say, just slap them up the side of the head ;)


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