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Thread: Dear Miss Manners: 1/11/13 edition

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Dear Miss Manners: 1/11/13 edition

    I'm going to be training a coworker to be an E&S technician. Tuesday is my first day in the field with him, and I have to find a way to tell him to wash his coats before he gets into the truck with me. I don't think he ever washes his coats, and I can't even stand to walk past the coat rack when his coat is there. It's not a body odor smell; it's a winter coat smell that probably has two winter's worth of stink on it.

    How would you accomplish this without hurting his feelings? He can get offended easily, but I'd rather offend him than become car sick while I'm with him.

  2. #2
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kms View post
    I'm going to be training a coworker to be an E&S technician. Tuesday is my first day in the field with him, and I have to find a way to tell him to wash his coats before he gets into the truck with me. I don't think he ever washes his coats, and I can't even stand to walk past the coat rack when his coat is there. It's not a body odor smell; it's a winter coat smell that probably has two winter's worth of stink on it.

    How would you accomplish this without hurting his feelings? He can get offended easily, but I'd rather offend him than become car sick while I'm with him.
    Wow that's a toughie! Hmmmmm.....
    I would try to be gracious and put it on yourself. How about this - tell him something like you're very allergic to certain mold spores, which many people are unaware of, but because of your sensitivity you're hyper-alert to its presence and that you've noticed you start to have a reaction whenever getting near his winter coat and would be indebted if he could have his coat cleaned to reduce exposure to the spores.

    Moderator note:
    split from RTDNTOTO8
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  3. #3
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kms View post
    I'm going to be training a coworker to be an E&S technician. Tuesday is my first day in the field with him, and I have to find a way to tell him to wash his coats before he gets into the truck with me. I don't think he ever washes his coats, and I can't even stand to walk past the coat rack when his coat is there. It's not a body odor smell; it's a winter coat smell that probably has two winter's worth of stink on it.

    How would you accomplish this without hurting his feelings? He can get offended easily, but I'd rather offend him than become car sick while I'm with him.
    Downy or Snuggle makes this fabric refreshing spray that you can get in a travel size. Might would help with a passive aggressive note. Wait, no, I would just tell him, he probably doesn't realize.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I had a really bad experience telling a former roommate that they smelled so I go nothing for you. A slightly civil conversation quickly devolved into passive aggressive notes to hostile notes to her moving her stinky self out of the apartment.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. #5
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    Downy or Snuggle makes this fabric refreshing spray that you can get in a travel size. Might would help with a passive aggressive note. Wait, no, I would just tell him, he probably doesn't realize.
    Or if you wanted to go a less passive-aggressive route, when no one is around you could just douse his coat with that spray, say nothing about it to anyone and leave him to wonder about it the rest of his life.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    This smell makes me sick. I was on an hours-long inspection with a guy whose truck was full of smelly coats, and the last 45 minutes of the inspection was spent in fervent prayer that I not throw up in front of someone whose work I regulate. The humorous part of this story is that I went to a park to recover, fell alseep and woke to find religious pamplets stuck in the door handle by religious zealots who left me for dead.

    I think I'll relate this story to him with a delicate, yet straightforward, suggestion that he should wash his coat before he gets into the truck with me.

  7. #7
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    You could "accidentally" spill something on his coat.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    1. Buy can of Fabreeze
    2. Spray entire contents on coat while on coat rack
    3. Throw empty Fabreeze can away (or recycle)
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    1. Buy can of Fabreeze
    2. Spray entire contents on coat while on coat rack
    3. Throw empty Fabreeze can away (or recycle)
    (surprise) I don't mind conflict, so I'd just tell them as nice as I could manage. However, this is pretty good and I'd leave the can in their jacket pocket.

    Planit FTW IMHO.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    There is a product called X-O odor neutralizer that we have used with great success with dog and cat smells. I'd buy one of their little spray bottles and use it every time I passed by his coat.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    (surprise) I don't mind conflict, so I'd just tell them as nice as I could manage. However, this is pretty good and I'd leave the can in their jacket pocket.

    Planit FTW IMHO.
    I actually like the idea of leaving the can in the jacket pocket. Go For It
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kms View post
    This smell makes me sick. I was on an hours-long inspection with a guy whose truck was full of smelly coats, and the last 45 minutes of the inspection was spent in fervent prayer that I not throw up in front of someone whose work I regulate. The humorous part of this story is that I went to a park to recover, fell alseep and woke to find religious pamplets stuck in the door handle by religious zealots who left me for dead.

    I think I'll relate this story to him with a delicate, yet straightforward, suggestion that he should wash his coat before he gets into the truck with me.
    This would be my choice. Tell him today so he can get it cleaned over the weekend.

    My mentor calls Civil War dances outdoors all summer, wearing a wool topcoat. A few years back, one of my camp followers referenced him as "the guy with the bad B.O." I thought about this; the man smells fine at an indoor flannel shirt gig. Must be the formal wear. So I sent him an e-mail with the heading, "you have broccoli in your teeth" and 'splained. He thanked me, got his coat cleaned, his stock went up amongst the CW community.

    You'll be doing this guy a favor, and a F-t-F discussion is kinder than a Febreeze pocket-bomb.

    HTH

  13. #13
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by giff57 View post
    You could "accidentally" spill something on his coat.
    I like this, then offer to get it cleaned for him! Then at least you would know it was cleaned to your specifications. Win-Win
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post

    Moderator note:
    split from RTDNTOTO8
    WHAT? A split?



    To answer the OP question, just be upfront with him and explain that his coat has a particular odor to it and ask him if he would wash it.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    WHAT? A split?


    .
    Give him a break. Its been hard for him to refrain (just hope it doesn't become a habit)
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  16. #16
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by giff57
    You could "accidentally" spill something on his coat.
    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    I like this, then offer to get it cleaned for him! Then at least you would know it was cleaned to your specifications. Win-Win
    I was going to suggest the same thing. I don't know that I would be bold enough to come right out and tell him, but I don't like the anonymous stuff either.

    FWIW, I am really good about telling people they have something in their teeth, or fly down, or what have you, because in those cases they probably really don't know that's the case. But with people that smell bad, how could they NOT know they smell bad? Maybe I am just overly sensitive to smells.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    This conversation is making me worry that I might smell!

    You guys would tell me if I smelled, right? Right?
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    This conversation is making me worry that I might smell!

    You guys would tell me if I smelled, right? Right?
    Um, ursus, you have broccoli in your teeth.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    Um, ursus, you have broccoli in your teeth.
    Ack! I knew it! Smell my pits, are they OK?
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    I was going to suggest the same thing. I don't know that I would be bold enough to come right out and tell him, but I don't like the anonymous stuff either.

    FWIW, I am really good about telling people they have something in their teeth, or fly down, or what have you, because in those cases they probably really don't know that's the case. But with people that smell bad, how could they NOT know they smell bad? Maybe I am just overly sensitive to smells.
    It's his coat that smells, not him. Yes? Not everyone has a good nose for their own essence; you get used to it. (I'm sure that my house smells like cinnamon cones and coffee and skin creams.)

    One of the drawbacks of the anonymous treatment: you'll forget, and spill the beans at some point.

    One of my short-term temp gigs was at a Kinko's and in came the owner/operator of a crematorium to get his brochure updated. There was no point in telling him that his attire smelled. He was a nice person and interesting to have visit; I took shallow cleansing breaths and after a few minutes the aroma was tolerable. But it's been about 15 years and I still remember it.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    I made up my mind to tell him before I left work this afternoon, but he was in a meeting. I hope I still have the resolve to tell him on Monday. If not, I'm going with thte Febreeze bomb.

    As if it's not difficult enough, I worked my way home this afternoon, and he called at 4:30 to make sure I was OK since I wasn't back by my usual time of 3 PM.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I'd just be straight. He probably doesn't realize. I worked with a lady in the planning department that had high sensitivity to perfume/cologne and there was a notice on the door that said as much. As a former boss, I've had to have this conversation a time or two. It's never comfortable but it was decently received.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    FWIW, there are also ways to deal with nausea caused by bad smells, car sickness, etc. that do not involve medication. I had a friend who could not sit in the back seat of a moving car without feeling sick. She had some sort of herbal concoction - I think it had peppermint oil and similar ingredients - that was very effective so the nausea was not so debilitating.

  24. #24
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kms View post
    This smell makes me sick. I was on an hours-long inspection with a guy whose truck was full of smelly coats, and the last 45 minutes of the inspection was spent in fervent prayer that I not throw up in front of someone whose work I regulate. The humorous part of this story is that I went to a park to recover, fell alseep and woke to find religious pamplets stuck in the door handle by religious zealots who left me for dead.

    I think I'll relate this story to him with a delicate, yet straightforward, suggestion that he should wash his coat before he gets into the truck with me.
    So how did that discussion go?

    I forgot to suggest one other thing you might try. If he pulls his coat off the rack and it's stinky, you could always give him The Look


    (sorry, just had to find a use for that gif one more time)
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    So how did that discussion go?

    I forgot to suggest one other thing you might try. If he pulls his coat off the rack and it's stinky, you could always give him The Look


    (sorry, just had to find a use for that gif one more time)
    I decided against it because I couldn't find a good opportunity. I guess that makes me a chicken. I'm thinking of bringing a few dryer sheets to work just in case. The coat he wore today wasn't offensive, and I'm hoping he wears it again tomorrow.

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