Throughout my career in the newspaper business I was involved in some aspect of fashion and style coverage, and in the last 10 years dealt quite a bit with beauty products and fragrance. Our style editor and our fashion writer would get samples of new products in the mail, call me over, and we’d huddle at one of their desks to explore whatever goodies had come in. If it involved a spritz of something, no big deal, as at that time I sat near a woman who didn’t care, and then later, for a while, sat by myself.
So when some personnel changes came along, and a sweet and lovely but very perfume-averse co-worker came to sit by me, I had a sinking feeling that things would be very different. “I can’t believe this happened to you, of all people — the perfume queen,” one buddy moaned. “What are you going to do?”
It wasn’t easy, but as in all aspects of life, you learn to adjust. I found I could very lightly spray my right wrist once early in the morning, just after my shower, and by the time I got to work after nearly an hour commute, I was pretty much OK. And a very light application of scented body lotion didn’t set off alarms.
But one day when a colleague got a little too enthusiastic spraying me with a potent new arrival, I knew it was going to be bad news. I scrubbed in the ladies’ room, stayed away from my desk for as long as possible, doing as much work as I could in other, less cramped departments, and ate an early lunch outside. It helped that it was spring (apologies to all you allergy sufferers) and there was already some coughing and sniffling about in the office, so when hers began, I joined in with a few faux sniffles myself (“Man, WHAT is blooming today?”) and silently vowed never to let that happen again.
Now in my new job there is a divider between me and my next-door neighbor, but I’m not tempting fate. If there’s something I’m dying to try and I just can’t wait until the evening or weekend, one dab from the sample vial on one wrist is all I allow myself. So far, it seems to be working.
How do you deal with scent in your workplace or in another area of your life in which you’re in close quarters with others?