Thursday, October 1, 2009


Yesterday morning, I went to another building for a meeting with WG. After about ten minutes into the meeting time, I received a change to the meeting details that told me that I was supposed to call the other party on his cell phone. Since I was already at his desk, I used his phone to call him.

I hate using other people's office phones. It's amazing how many people wear perfume or cologne that gets all over their phone handsets and then migrates to the face of any other user. So even several hours later, I still smelled the miasma that was WG's aroma du jour.

They say smell is one of the most powerful triggers of memory. This incident reminded me of a time when I was a customer service supervisor at Nearly Defunct Online Company. The department frequently reorganized, due to high turnover. There was a married couple, let's call them Alice and Bob, who were notorious for questionable behavior. Each of them reported to me at one time or another.

It was a pretty well-known fact among the managers that if Alice or Bob reported to you, you would have attendance problems that would always skate on the edge of the policy. For example, if the policy said something like "No more than three unscheduled absences in any rolling 90-day period," then you could bet all the money in your wallet that Alice or Bob would have four unscheduled absences in a 91-day period, but only three in any given 90-day period. And you would win your bet more often than not.

Also, you could bet that if Alice scheduled a vacation day, you could talk to Bob's manager and find that he had scheduled the following day off. Then Alice would be "sick" on Bob's vacation day and Bob would be "sick" on Alice's vacation day. Of course, it ticked off managers, but the support to get them written up wasn't really there, because the Human Resources department was more interested in the company not being sued by disgruntled ex-employees than helping managers resolve issues. Or something like that.

The other part of their mystique was that they both reeked. They had a sour unwashed smell, which they both covered with huge amounts of cologne or perfume or whatever. Plus, their hair was out of control. Alice's hair looked like a farcical movie actress' make-up for what happens after someone gets shocked by a huge amount of electricity. Bob's hair was slicked down with some kind of grease so that it formed more of a flexible plate than a head of hair. Sometimes his bangs would separate, and he'd use a finger to mash them back together into a united front.

I had a theory that if you put both of them in an enclosed space, the two smells would cancel each other out. That explained why they thought nothing of each other's odor. I never thought to set up an experimental situation, though. I think I was afraid of potential fallout. Also, I'm not that cold.


M&M said...

"Also, I'm not that cold."


Introduce me! Introduce me! I'll put them together and if their smells DON'T cancel each other out, I won't know. I have a terrible sense of smell.

One of the few "benefits" of recurrent sinus infections.

GirlyWarrior said...

I love your description of these guys! LOL