Mr. Cologne Man Strikes Again
Last week, I met with a college student who is doing a project on insurance and liability for businesses (note to self: thank goodness there are people who are interested in that work, and thank goodness those people are not me). He and his teammates came to the bookshop to talk with me about the business, our building, our insurance coverage, and more. The moment this kind young guy entered the bookshop, I was hit with a veritable wall of cologne. Instead of shaking hands as I usually do, I waved hello from afar.
It was really cold and rainy outside, so asking him and his classmates to step outside was not an option. I tried to keep the conversation brief and found myself backing away in really awkward ways in order to not be too close to their cloud of Axe body spray or Old Spice aftershave or $5,000 cologne whatever the heck they were wearing. I’m sure I looked kind of odd.
This week we were set to meet again, and I decided to write the group leader an email a full day before our meeting. Here’s the relevant excerpt of my note to him:
I have migraine disease and scents are a major trigger for me. Would you and your teammates please refrain from wearing any aftershave or cologne tomorrow? That would help me a lot (and this is something I have to ask of all my employees and anyone I have meetings with).
There was no response from him last night or this morning, but I figured I had done my best and that he and the rest of the group would show up scent-free.
Oh, I thought wrong.
Turns out he didn’t check his email. (Did you know that this is a common pattern for a lot of college-aged students, at least here in Athens? I check my email about 100 times a day; many of the students I work with never do!) An hour and a half before we were set to meet, I sat at a cafe during my lunch break and realized I had a migraine coming on. I drank a couple of glasses of water and decided to refrain from taking my triptan just yet. When I got back to the shop, I had a small cup of coffee. I almost thought I was starting to feel better.
Until the meeting, which I rushed through while trying to look casual by putting my sweater sleeve over, like, my entire face. Such a confident look for a business owner! Ha. Only the main guy showed up, and I asked him if he’d gotten my email—that’s when he revealed that he hadn’t checked his email since early the day before.
At that point, I felt super-awkward saying anything about his scent. I’d already stepped out of my comfort zone by mentioning something via email, and there was nothing I could do then to control the situation—I’d already smelled the smell, after all, and saying something would probably just make this shy person feel really uncomfortable. In order to shorten the exposure time, I just kind of kept things brief and simple—I wonder if I pretty much rushed him out the door.
By the time he left about twenty minutes later, the migraine was on full force and I took my naratriptan.
No big lesson here, and no big question for you guys. I just wanted to talk about yet one more quotidian situation (e.g., someone wearing cologne) that would never, ever bother someone without a sensitive nose or migraine brain. How many of you out there can identify with this?
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