Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cubicle Life Conundrums #3: Hygiene & Cleanliness


We all know people smell. It’s why we take showers and have bathrooms in our homes. And that’s where most hygiene-related matters belong: in your personal bathroom.

Don’t bring your grooming habits to work. Sure, applying your makeup or clipping your toenails in your cubicle may result in an extra fifteen minutes of sleep, but it also may make working next to you a total nightmare.

Remember: Not smelling begins at home, but keep a stick of antiperspirant in your cubicle just in case.

I write in “Chapter Six: Hygiene” of The Cubicle Survival Guide: Keeping Your Cool in the Least Hospitable Environment on Earth

“Many people think that body odor was eradicated about the same time the feudal system was deemed no longer effective as a way to organize human beings. Though today serfs no longer have to pay fiefs and castles are little more than tourist traps where wealthy newlyweds spend their honeymoons, body odor is still very much part of human existence…

No one really knows what smelly people are thinking. Do they know they smell and just not care? Or do they have no idea that they smell? Don’t they have loved ones to inform them that they smell? Don’t they realize that being smelly in the cubicle community is not only a professional death wish but also a major aggravation for co-workers? How, after all, do you politely and professionally tell someone they stink? Really. How can you not know you smell? It’s like being on fire.”

After months of research and interviews, I compiled a list of strategies in The Cubicle Survival Guide that employees can use to combat, deter, and repel smelly neighbors. From uncapped deodorant sticks and small fans to making your cubicle appear like a hospital supply dumping ground, learn how to put smelly employees where they belong – by themselves.

For example:

Melinda Spring should have been an Avon Lady. Yet, for full dental and low monthly premiums, she works next to smelly Harold Kennedy instead. Melinda keeps what she calls a “shadow cabinet” in her cubicle: an extra bottle, tube, and container of every nail polish, moisturizing crème, and eye cleanser she has in her bathroom at home.

“I know it’s a little over the top,” she tells her colleagues. “But trust me. Working next to Harold, I need a full arsenal.”

“Hey, Melinda,” Harold says, leaning his elbow on her cubicle wall, his fingernails black with dirt, his armpits stained with damp sweat circles; shreds of meat are lodged in his teeth from yesterday’s brisket. “I think we should discuss your choice of font in the April newsletter.”

“Sure,” Melinda says, turning her small, electric fan on high and pointing it at Harold. “I’d love to hear what you think about the font.” She retrieves a can of hair spray from her desk drawer and, while poking at her hair, shoots it at the fan. A swarm of fragrant and sticky molecules envelop Harold and cling to him, stinging his skin.

“Oh god!” he screams. “What the hell is that stuff?” Harold grabs his throat as it swells shut.

Melinda notices Harold bend over, gasping for air. She repositions the fan and shoots the hairspray again. Harold spins, almost falling down.

“Harold!” Melinda says. “Are you okay? Maybe you should get some air and send me an email later.”

17 comments:

Ms Moudene said...

Have I told you that a man recently visited our office bearing mints and hand sanitizer with his logo? Brilliant chap!
I became increasingly aware of how much coffee I tend do drink and began to second guess the spot on my nail... was that really ink?

James F. Thompson said...

Hand sanitizer bearing his logo, really? I'm guessing he is a proctologist. Perhaps you can use the sanitizer to remove that spot from you nail. Throw the mint away. You never know.

gladtoknowHim said...

I think people count on the fact that it's very awkward to confront them about their BO. I work next to a very nice lady whom everybody likes. The only problem is that everybody doesn't have to put up with her nuclear farts (NFs)all day long.

I put up with it for at least a week, but now I've started using various air fresheners. Get this: she objects to my using air fresheners!

I say, be considerate about the NFs, and I'll be considerate about the air fresheners!

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http://www.cubedoor.com/

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