Like most workplaces, we have a 6 stall women's bathroom. This bathroom does not have a door, it has a partition at the entrance for privacy. There are probably 40 women employed here.
Sometimes when I walk into the bathroom, there is an odor so bad it turns my stomach. There are times that I can smell it before I even get into the bathroom- it's so strong that I smell it OUTside the bathroom door partition.
It's not plumbing related, or related to normal activites that occur in a bathroom. This is body odor. Lack-of-female-hygiene odor. Lack of ANY hygiene odor. And it's SO STRONG that it literally makes me gag. Like hold-your-breath-because-you're-going-to-hurl strong. REALLY bad.
It's clearly one person because I've had the experience of walking into a stall and having the stench hit me like a wall of nauseating disgustingness.
Seriously, it's that bad. If I have to use the bathroom when it smells like that I will spray air freshener in each empty stall before I will even stay in there another minute- or I will walk out and come back later. It's just disgusting.
Yes, other women have smelled it too and yes, they're grossed out too- but no one knows what to do about it. I am about 99% sure I know that it's one particular person who's the source of the stench- but I'm not 100% certain because you can never be certain.
I don't think I should have to be subjected to someone else's revolting, overwhelming crotch body odor in the workplace.
I've considered going to our HR lady about it but I'm not even sure what I would be asking her to do...? I mean she can't go to everyeone's home and make sure they take a proper shower so they don't offend the rest of the employees. I suppose she could send an email to all the women here stressing the need for proper hygiene blahblahblah but I just can't see her doing that.
So if you were me, how would you handle it? I seriously cannot take it anymore- it's just SO gross and offensive. I can't really avoid it because I don't know who's in the bathroom before I go there. I only find out when the smell hits me and at that point I've already walked all the way across the building.
I also don't want to be mean. This person doesn't appear to realize that she smells so bad that she is making people gag. I just want it to STOP.
And yes, go to HR. They are trained to handle these sorts of things - which makes it their job. And what you say must be held in confidence (they cannot reveal who "turned them in").
If the odor is that bad, I truly wonder if she has some sort of infection?
We had a similar incident here but it wasn't body odor, it was massive perfume from hell. HR handled the situation discreetly and the issue is resolved.
I thought the same thing about some kind of infection- but seriously- if you had a medical condition that made you smell that bad, wouldn't you be aware of it and take drastic measures to eliminate it? The smell- to me- is recognizable as just a hygiene problem. But I could be wrong.
but seriously- if you had a medical condition that made you smell that bad, wouldn't you be aware of it and take drastic measures to eliminate it?
Oh god, yes! I had bacterial vaginosis years ago and at first whiff, my ass was at the gyn. No sooner than my feet were in the stirrups, doc says, "YUP....bacterial infection!" EMBARRASSING...but it had to be taken care of. And no, I was going nowhere in public until it was GONE.
But definitely say something to HR...you nor your coworkers should have to deal with that...
As you say, there may be nothing that can be done about it, but you won't know until you bring it up. In fact, it could have something to do with the design of the ladies room holding and trapping the smell. It could even not be a personal issue but at problem with the drains. I've experienced something like this in another office; the smell was like a body odor, but it was coming from a drain in the floor.
I'm just putting this out there so that you know this person could be aware of the issue and it may not be a readily fixable and embarrassing problem.
[This message edited by hurtbs at 5:59 PM, September 16th (Monday)]
"In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate." - Asimov
"Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you." - Ovid
If you all think HR is the way to go, I will work up the nerve to tell the HR lady that someone has really disgusting crotch odor and it's making us all sick LOL. I guess then it will be her problem- but my guess is that she won't do anything about it.
In the meantime- what the hell do *I* do to avoid it??? I mean... I've taken to turning around and leaving the bathroom if I smell it at all. I don't want to have to hold my breath for the entire time I'm in there!!
WH#2 (suicide prior to finalized divorce)
XWH #1 - legally married 18yrs. 12+ OW (that I know of).
I edit often for clarity/typos.
And you know I was thinking about it- I would go with the whole "medical problem" scenario- but this is not a new development, it's been like this for almost a year. Seems unlikely that a medical issue would that caused that kind of symptom would go untreated for that long.
[This message edited by Eranda at 9:55 PM, September 16th (Monday)]
If she has had this for a long time, she may have become accustomed to the smell, and not realize she has it, or she just doesn't care. I would definitely go to HR with this concern. That smell you are talking about (I know exactly what that smell is) doesn't go away with plain old soap and water, you have to kill the bug, so frequently when the infection is pervasive the afflicted person needs to use antifungal creams, and take a roung of oral antibiotics, and oral antifungals.
If she isn't the smartest bulb in the box, she may have no clue how to deal with it, and may be embarassed to even go to the Dr.
The only other thought I have is to place an anonymous article on her desk related to this issue, and ways it is treated.
I am sure glad I work alone most of the time.
and this reminds me i didnt put deodorant on.
[This message edited by Kalleigh at 9:06 AM, September 17th (Tuesday)]
I used to keep a small jar of Vick's Vaporub in my purse and put it under my nose when this person was in the vicinity. It did help.
I hope you get some resolution.
In our case, we all just brought aromatherapy stuff in and so now we have stench competing with lavender, orange peel, coffee and whatever other scent someone brings in to outcompete the stench. Nice mix.
edited to add - I know it's not the man's fault he smells that bad. You really can smell soap and cologne on him as well, and he's not dirty looking. It must be something he can't wash away.
[This message edited by circe at 10:04 AM, September 17th (Tuesday)]
The smell would literally ooze out of every pore of his body. It didn't even really smell like garlic.....just an awful, awful smell.
I tried air freshners, etc but nothing helped at all (yum - lilac covered garlic )
He was clueless and finally after much hints, he got it (or maybe the garlic fad ran its course).
Is your HR male or female? Real question is, does your HR personnel use this bathroom??? If so, they have to know, right?
Maybe in your letter to HR, you can request an air purifying system in the bathroom??? I mean, if they can't do anything about the source due to medical issues....they can address the air?
Usually all it takes is an email (sent to everyone) reminding staff of certain policies. The culprits get the hint and problem solved.
I know it's not the man's fault he smells that bad. You really can smell soap and cologne on him as well, and he's not dirty looking. It must be something he can't wash away.
Diet has an impact on BO, and it is also often the case that the person in question is not drinking enough water. These ARE things that are under a person's control, at least to some extent.
I hope you can get HR to deal with the issue. Foul smells are unbearable, plain and simple.