Saturday, July 7, 2007

Common Scents

A woman in Detroit is suing the city over co-workers' use of strong perfumes and air deoderizers. (Read it here!)

This story comes at a great time because I was going to revisit a previous post from a week ago when I wrote a mild rant about strong scents in public places. In that rant, I mentioned a poll you could take in my blog's sidebar.

The poll question read, "Should Strong Perfumes, Colognes, and Hand Lotions be Banned From Use in Restaurants and Work Places?" There were 9 votes total; 6 for banning (66%), 2 for not banning (22%), and 1 undecided (11%). And, yes I know there is a percent missing, gimme a break this isn't advanced math I'm doing here. ~.^

Now, I should have reworded that from Ban to Restrict. I don't think actually banning the use of personal scents is a reasonable response. But the scent wearer (user) should also exercise some common sense on how much to wear.

An anonymous comment on that post claimed the scent users have a right to personal expression.

To an extent, I agree with that statement. people should have a right to express themselves. Of course, obvious limitations to society and laws need to be observed. I may like walking around my house naked, but my kids don't need to see that, nor my neighbors across the street who happen to glance through my unshuttered, open picture window. I'm also pretty sure my cats don't particularly care for it either. Sure, they put on a good show of ignoring it, but I hear them sniggering to each other about it later.

My opinion is that your right to personal expression stops at my personal space. If I can smell you from three or four feet away, strongly and clearly, then you are invading my personal space, and you should move (or maybe wash it off). Perfume and other scents should be a personal thing. A person should have to be right up near you, within your personal space, to smell it.

Unless you are stating that your personal space extends around yourself in a substantially larger radius than others?

I consider it rude for someone to use a scented lotion, or to spritz perfume, while in a public place. Especially an eating establishment, or a grocery store.

Would they like it if I walked by their table and ... farted?

Hey, it's a natural bodily function. God created the ability for the human body to release excess gas. Perfume is a man-made substance, not natural. But, if I stood there and played the Flight of the Bumblebee with my Tushie Tuba, I'd be tossed out of the restaraunt; maybe even arrested.

Why? Because it is rude, offensive, and fairly gross ... by society's standards (and my own). Is not the stench of floral assault not as rude, offensive, and gross? I don't want to smell it at my table, let alone taste it! Yuck! But, perhaps farting is my way of expressing myself?

No? I don't think that excuse flies for either circumstance.

The above reminds me of a true story. It takes place long before smoking was banned in restaurants. I was maybe 16, so this had to be in the mid to late '80's.

My mother, my sister's mother-in-law, and myself were at one of our favorite pizza joints. Seating was in booths down a very long room, about 15 booths to a side; six seaters, eight if you were thin or very friendly. A wall ran along one side of the booths, with a six foot high barrier wall along the other. It was topped with various plants and a bronze runner bar.

We were seated, about half-way though our meal, when a group of five men entered and asked (almost demanded) that we move because this was their traditional booth. Of course we said no, there were about twenty or so other booths available for them to sit at and we had already begun eating. They cursed at us and sat directly behind us. Three on the bench directly behind my mother and myself, two across the table from those three.

Immediately they all lit up cigarettes and cigars. Annoying, but not much we could do other than move. Even though my mother has breathing problems compounded by smoke, she was adamant about not moving.

Then the "gentlemen" began holding their lit cigarettes (and one cigar) over their shioulders. Smoke began to billow into our eating space. We politely asked them if they would stop holding their cigarettes like that. They laughed and started to turn their heads and blow the smoke at us. One guy even tapped his ashes onto my mothers neck.

We complained to the restaraunt owner, who we knew as my sister had once dated his son in high school. Dimitri, the owner, apologized, and gave us our meal free, but said he couldn't tell them to stop because he didn't want trouble with those men. I got the picture. Yeah, Dimitri's place was THAT sorta pizza joint. >_>

We got the rest of the food packed up in boxes and my mother and my sister's in-law left, walking down the small hallway to the exit, the six foot barrier wall high wall to their right. As they passed where the men were you could hear them laugh harder and call us all sorts of cruel and nasty names. I was at the front counter, talking to Dimitri.

About this time I saw their waitress bring over their orders.

I said goodbye to Dimitri, casually grabbed the lid off a very full floor ashtray next to the counter, walked down the hallway, and as I got next to the Darwinian rejects' booth, I upended the entire ashtray over the wall and onto them, their food, and the huge pitcher of beer they were drinking.

Then I ran like hell.

The next time we ate at Dimitri's place, he said absolutely nothing to me about it, but I did get a free piece of baklava, "just because". ~.^

So, the next time someone sits near me in a restaurant and whips out the lotion or perfume, I think I'm ordering up a mess of baked beans.

Ah, I smell victory!

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