Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Body Odor-why isn't nauseated a mood choice?

OK given - I work in the construction industry.  Men that work in the field all day are gonna be not-so-fresh, or even ripe.  I understand that. 

What I don't get is people who stink.  I mean STANK and aren't aware.  Or they pretend they're not aware.  How can they not know?!?

Case in point:  Guy walks in to apply for job.  Guy obviously hasn't bathed in quite some time.  Guy makes two office staff choke for the 10 minutes he's in here filling out paperwork wearing a shirt that obviously hasn't seen a washing machine for quite some time.  Turns out he's an ex-bullrider.  No excuse.  He's an equipment operator who makes damn good money.  We had to fumigate afterwards.  Lysol even.  How could he not know that he stunk that bad??

There's another guy that works for one of our subcontractors - upper level management.  He comes in here and we all have to evacuate.  The guys are the only ones who can stand to be in the same room with him, and even then it can't be for long because his body odor is so horrible.  I once went to a prebid and was choking and gagging the whole time because I had to be in the same room with the guy.  And this one's married.  I don't get how his wife could let him out like that, much less live with him.  She's obviously not following through with her end of the job.

I used to manage a Pizza Hut.  (shaddap.)  Anyway one of my employees - a driver - used to have that problem and I actually had to write him up for it.  You have to maintain a certain level of cleanliness when you're handling people's food.  He bathed after a couple of warnings.  He was a single, kind of lonely guy who drove a Ford Fiesta.  I used to feel kinda sorry for him.

Any theories here would be welcome.  I happen to think that maybe they can't smell it anymore.  Maybe they just don't have the sense of smell to recognize that particular odor.  The only other alternative is such low self esteem that they just don't care to bathe or bother with hygiene - ie they just don't care how they smell.

I've volunteered and worked around homeless people, and even though they don't have the luxury of daily showers and clean laundry, most of them don't smell that bad.  There are a few I've run into with mental illnesses that don't have the capacity to care for themselves in that way - but other than that, its not a lack of bathing issue.

I know its a social norm, and I shouldn't push my values or beliefs on other people, but this is beyond that.  This is hygiene and decency and the ability to go out and function in society.  There's a choice here - its not a disability, just take a freakin shower or at least use deodorant for the love of pete.

Any thoughts?  Sounds like a great topic for a philosophical discussion - is it choice?  medical condition?  a form of rebellion?  down with the establishment kind of thing?  And why is it so hard for us to confront the issue - I mean we're not talking about abortion or sexual preference here.  Most people know better than to fart in public because its kind of rude and gross (even if its funny as heck) - this is on that same level.

Deodorant.  One of modern society's great wonders.  Maybe I'll just keep a stash in the office for emergencies, just like we stock up on Lysol.

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