Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Big Stink

Upon joining The Van, I received a typed list of Van Guidelines (we're all adults so they're "guidelines" not "rules"). The eighth and final item states:

Please be sensitive to allergy needs.
Go light on the perfume and cologne.

Now, I am nothing if not sensitive the allergy needs of others. I myself apply only a whisper of a scent that hints at the charm, sophistication, and discerning taste of the wearer. This is in stark contrast to the women (and occasional man) radiating the stank of the drugstore perfume they presumably laundered their clothes in, shampooed their hair with, and swished around their mouth. These fragrance abusers leave watery eyes and sneezing fits in their wake, befouling elevators, restrooms, and yes, vanpools.

Along with my fellow vanpoolers, I recently received an email stating that there had been at least one, and possible more, riders bitching about the fragrance intensity of their fellow passengers. We were issued an edict prohibiting the use of "Perfumes/colognes, scented lotions, and/or other things that might cause others to react and/or feel sick."

You know what makes me sick?

Timid motherfuckers who would rather tattle to the self-appointed Van Mother than address their grievances with the offending party.

Was I too engrossed in my book or did I have my mp3 player turned up too loud to notice when my van morphed into a Fascist regime? How was it that our freedoms of olfactory expression were revoked on the basis of one complainant?

It must also be said that I have not noticed anyone's noxious fumes while on the van (apart from general ride home ripeness that can't really be avoided when you're standing under the Texas sun waiting on your van for any longer than 45 seconds).

Reminiscent of the Poker axiom that 'if you can't tell who the sucker is after 15 minutes, it's you,' I had a horrifying thought dawn on me: what if I was the offending party?

Aghast, I questioned the three riders who board at my stop if they were the offendees or if I was the offender. Although all three said no, two of them looked at me as though I asked them how much money they make or what they paid for their house. The way I see it, if someone was irritated enough to complain about someone's perfume, they should at least own up to it.

To date, neither the source of the offensive smell nor the complainant has been identified.

For my part, the day after the email was sent, I was sure to add an extra spritz of perfume to my morning routine just to keep Democracy alive and well.

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