YES! We got our first reader-submitted email today. You should send us one (or several), too. Don’t be shy, people! Here’s what our awesome reader had to say:
Here’s a topic that has been on my mind for awhile: people with bad breath, and bad BO altogether. People who sit close to me at work are completely oblivious to how bad their mouth stench is. I find myself gagging half the day and trying not to grimace at the cesspool of grossness that stands before me. Do people not realize how rank they smell? And it’s not only breath. You would think that people who work in an office would be more willing to shower and brush their teeth – normal personal hygiene routines that our parents rigourously went through with us for the better part of our childhood years. There are two particular people in the office that I work at that are serious violators of the personal hygiene code; one of these offenders doesn’t seem to brush their teeth, or eats the most disgusting breakfast that leaves the stench of fresh shit in their mouth; and the other has never been introduced to a bar of soap or a stick of deodorant, leaving us all to dread being remotely close to this person. I don’t care if you’re a hippie or some sort of activist, when you work in a professional setting, WASH YOUR BODY!! For the love of God! This person obviously has no shame.
Anyway, I think it’s an important matter that needs to be addressed. Please and thank you.
I feel your pain all too well. I remember having a stinky friend in high school; let’s call her Stephanie (because that was her name). When Stephanie spoke, it smelled like a series of grotesque farts being torpedoed from her mouth, directly into my nostrils. On a semi-related note, she also always had big, orange pieces of carrot stuck in her braces, but I never saw her eat a single carrot. How was this possible? I still wonder. Anyway, back to her crap dust breath. I couldn’t tell her about it. It was simply too awkward. Eventually, another friend noticed how bad it was and so we made a pact to tell Stephanie together. Well, neither of us had the courage to potentially insult her and make her feel absolutely horrible, so we kept our mouths shut (which, ironically, is what we wished she would do!).
Sure, we tried dropping hints. We offered her a variety of gums (from minty to fruity fresh) but she consistently refused. We proposed food from our lunches that might help clean her palate. We started subtle conversations about our favorite toothpastes. Still, no dice. There was no way of getting Stephanie to fix her problem without flat-out saying, “Your breath is abominable.”
The lesson to be learned here is that, if you’re a kind person, you will simply have to tough smelly people out. It is probably impossible to avoid these individuals as they tend to pop up throughout your life, often at the worst times (like in your case – daily, in your office). Saying something like, “Your stench is grossing everyone in this room out and you need to do something about it before it kills us all” can and may very well be perceived as an act of malice rather than a kind, albeit desperate, tip.
The situation isn’t completely hopeless, though. In certain cases, the offender will have a best friend. Like, a real best friend – one they’ve known for decades, have swapped blood & spit with, and are basically related to. This is the only person who can confront them about their stinkiness. Sure, the odorous person may be momentarily upset, but eventually, they will see their best friend as a savior. If I smelled bad and Maria didn’t tell me, I’d be pissed. Our friendship is based on honesty, and that includes telling me when I look like shit, when I have food in my teeth and when I need a shower (or a mint).
Clearly, Stephanie and I weren’t best friends.
Another possible solution is convincing the putrid person to go to China and become an astronaut. China has recently banned bad breath from space. The person would be eliminated after preliminary testing, and would thus become aware of their foul smell.
So, to reiterate, unless you’re extremely close friends with your smelly coworkers or are able to send them off to space through China, don’t say anything. You risk starting annoying office drama and that’s not fun. My suggestion, assuming you aren’t doing this already, is to secretly email other coworkers about it, thereby trading clever, possibly hilarious jokes that will make your shifts pass by faster.