In The Stink (7/27/05)

Dear Zelda,
Everyone in my office is reading Dear Zelda and we love your straight forward, somewhat out-of-the-box advice. We have a dicey question for you. One of our co-workers here at our brokerage firm has really bad "body odor." Several of us have discussed it and don't know how to let him know that he'd probably have more friends if he could do something about his "scent." How do we go about telling him without hurting his feelings?

In The Stink

Dear In The Stink,
I'm all about being "au natural", but please...in a brokerage firm? Fuhget about it. Body odor for me is like one of those colored hair scrunchies women wear--they both can only be worn when doing laundry in the privacy of your own home.

Yet your co-worker has decided to air his dirty laundry in a place where clean power suits mingle with tidy power lunches. UNACCEPT-A-BULL! I say bring your laundry basket of complaints to him for his sake and yours. You probably want to avoid using phrases like "P.U." and "WHAT THE HECK STINKS AROUND HERE?" At the same time, you want to let him know that you are concerned not only for his health but for his career. Make sure to pick a place of complete privacy (with an incredible ventilation system), and choose either you or someone who he trusts to talk with him about it. If he truly sees your concern, and the fact that you're not being judgmental, you may find him receptive to your laundry list of woes.

Do be prepared though, there could be a medical reason why he isn't able to wear deodorant. Many people are either allergic to deodorants or have a chemical imbalance resulting from an enzyme deficiency which goes beyond proper hygiene.

At the very least you will clean up your concerns and leave the rest for him to fold and sort.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,
My problem has to do with my work environment. I work in an office with a lot of cubicles and very bad air circulation. I have allergies to various perfumes and several of the women wear a lot of it. I find myself glued to my Kleenex box and my watery eyes make it hard for me to work on my computer. Any suggestions? I can't tell them to stop wearing perfume. I love my job. It's just hard to work well in the office.

Sneezy

Dear Sneezy,

Isn't it awful when women today forget the "international laws of proper perfuming?" Any girl who was brought up right knows: it's a pump into the air, wait 2 seconds, then ever-so-gently flow through the mist for the perfect amount of "perfume dew" to start your day (or evening).

These girls in your office are what I like to call "Perfume Kamikazis." They don't realize that the designer-impostor perfumes, in which they seem to bathe, become A-bombs when worn in tight confined spaces, and that each "fly by" past your cubicle becomes a blatant attack on your nose's homeland security. We the people know that the Second Amendment gives everyone the right to bear arms (or in this case perfume)...but after all, you also have to be able to bear the air!

So the plan of attack goes like this. Start by placing an oscillating fan in your cubicle in an obvious place. If they are not used to seeing it, it will be a conversation starter (especially if you do it in the dead of winter). When asked why you have a fan going all the time, you can let them know in a very caring and non-confrontational way that unfortunately for you, their odious odors leave you rendered helpless in a veritable "perfume Pearl Harbor." Once they are able to see into those big, red, watery eyes, I think you'll find that the lines of communication will open in a subtle way, and by showing that you took the effort to try and solve the problem without spraying blame all over the office, your chances of dividing and conquering will go way up.

CHARGE!

Zelda

Dear Zelda,
I have 3 dogs that I love very much... Larry, Moe, and Curley. However I've begun to notice that my house is beginning to smell a little "doggy". Do you have any remedies? I know you have two fellow canine friends living with you so I'm hoping you have a good solution. Thanks.

Eau de Doggy

Dear Eau de Doggy

Interesting dilemma you have there. A house that smells a little "doggy" doesn't sound so bad to me, but I think I'm catching a whiff of what you're saying here. In order to ensure a home of odorless harmony, all parties involved need to be aware of the fine balance between "pretty pup-ourri" and "did someone step in something?"

Of course, the obvious would be to make sure everything and everyone gets a good dose of spring cleaning...yes, even if it's summer, winter, or fall. Proper dog grooming on an ongoing basis is the brick and mortar for an odorless foundation on which to build a happy hacienda.

If you find that after your full spa treatments the odors persist, you may need to look deeper to find the culprit by checking with your groomer first, and then your vet, to make sure your roomies aren't slip-covered in a nasty skin problem that goes beyond your average grooming. Finally, if push comes to shove, you can choose to just keep some parts of the house "doggie-free" to preserve some semblance of sanitation.

Other than that, it's scented candles and mood lighting for nothing less than "dog house beautiful" perfection.

Zelda