On The Issue Of Hygiene

Imagine, if you will, being stuck in a line behind someone who smells. We’re not talking the garden variety “oh this person just went to the gym” kind of smell. We’re talking 3-4 weeks of old sweat coupled with the inability of this person to properly clean themselves off after using the toilet. We’re talking everyone in a fifteen foot radius of this person is going to be completely grossed out, and half of them will become nauseous. One might even throw up.

Today, while standing in line at WalMart, waiting because the cash register imploded, refusing to open, and all the other lines were 500 people deep, we got stuck behind this person. Now, normally I am sensitive to odors anyway; I cannot tolerate perfumes nor colognes on other people – not because I’m a bitch and don’t want other people to smell funky, but because my lungs immediately seize in protest and my throat begins to itch as if I had swallowed a cup full of fire ants. I begin to cough, mucous thickens in my throat, and it feels as if my chest is about to cave in. My ability to draw in a simple breath is seriously compromised. For the same reason, I can’t tolerate cigarette smoke and wind up leaving restaurants where people are smoking, even on the other side of the room. Standing behind this woman, I began to wish my ability to breathe had been impeded.

There was nowhere else to go. The place was packed, and they only had 5 or 6 registers going. We could have put back the things we intended to purchase, but that honestly required more effort than I wanted to make, since it would have meant walking the length of the store again; we could have done like other people and just dumped out intended purchases on top of the display at the end of the counter, but I don’t want to be one of Those People – people too lazy to go put things back where they got them, thus creating more work for employees already paid too little.

And we really did need what we had gone to buy.

So we were stuck. And it was disgusting. I find it hard to believe that this woman could be so oblivious to this odor (and yes, I do understand that some people, in spite of their best efforts, just smell; that type of body odor is of a particular uniqueness that I would recognize – this woman just stunk). I felt sorry for the kids who were with her; or perhaps they were used to it, though I can't imagine being able to get used to that smell.

It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of effort to manage some basic hygiene. A little water. A little soap. Some deodorant if you feel like it, though that’s not required to maintain a humane type of air about oneself. You don’t even have to do this every day – every other day should suffice.

But come on… if you only bathe once every other month, stay home. Please?

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