Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday: Social Niceties

You know, I'm a pretty tolerant girl. Most things don't bother me, I'm not easily embarrassed, and it takes a significant act of aggression to piss me off.

Smelly is one thing, though, that I just can't handle.

There are variations on this of course, as in all things. A little sweat is fine, and on the right person it's even kinda sexy, but then there's ripe B.O. (which still sounds like a foghorn when I say it in my head - you children of the 70's and 80's can hear it too no doubt) that's bad enough to make your eyes water. There's someone's gross lunch stink, which can't be helped sometimes, and then there's dragon breath that will singe your nose hairs.

I was sitting behind a woman on the bus this morning who had chosen to marinate in her favorite perfume. With a good perfume, this might just result in a slightly cloying scent bubble, but in this case I was having to breathe through my mouth (which was no help - now I can taste it too). It was something akin to baby powder infused Jasmine soup.

Now it was probably just me gagging on this, since I hate the scent of both baby powder and Jasmine, and actually have an allergy to Jasmine (it does weird and unpleasant things to my tongue), but it got me thinking about how people just don't consider the world around them sometimes, myself included... I'm sure that leather jacket I had in high school, the one that had a glass bottle of patchouli spill in the pocket, offended more than one olfactory nerve in its time.

Today's Wonder stems from being nasally assaulted in public this morning...

Why can't some folks see beyond their own spaces?

I'm sure it's as simple as being used to their own stuff; I mean I'm guessing the woman this morning has been wearing the same perfume for ages, and doesn't even smell it anymore. I'm certain the kid with the blaring headphones is so deaf by now he can barely hear the thumpa-thumpa of his music as it is. I guarantee you the guy with the fish breath sitting behind me the whole way, coughing merrily I might add, just hadn't thought of checking his breath post-lunch due to his allergy-medication-induced grogginess. There's usually a reason for everything.

Of course we being the polite folks we are generally don't *tell* the offenders they're offensive, because it's not socially acceptable behavior. Then again, neither is wearing so much perfume that it makes others want to barf like a chicken. (Thanks, Uncle Stevie.)

For me, at least, having my senses subjected to things like that makes me *more* aware that I shouldn't soak in my favorite perfume (only partially motivated by its hefty price-tag) or crank up Elvis Costello on my headphones no matter how much I love that song, and that I should have a mint after that onion soup at lunchtime.

Thankfully most people are fairly observant, or public transportation would really suffer.

Outside of the world of the RTD, however, you often will find people just don't realize how much they're really affecting the world around them with their lack of attention to the social niceties. The yeller at work, for example, who you'd swear was half-deaf due to the excessive volume of her speaking voice. The orally-fixated gum-snapper in the next office over. The person in the grocery store who must walk down the middle of the aisle and leave their cart there while they peruse the contents of the shelves, leaving you to move their cart for them (and how often do you get a dirty look for doing so?). The incubator who insists on coming in to work even though they've seemingly got a wad of Kleenex permanently affixed to their nose.

You just want to chuck stuff at them, don't you? You don't of course, because while being gross and rude *should* be illegal, it isn't, and physically harming someone for sneezing without covering their mouth *is*.

It's a cruel world.

Just because I love it so, here's that Elvis Costello song I'd be subjecting my fellow passengers to if I thought they'd appreciate it.


Julie said...

I can still smell that g-d patchouli. Did you know that there are 2 types of jasmine - and one is poisonous? I found that out while researching tortoise diets.

curegirl0421 said...

I loved that jacket, and I'm not surprised about the Jasmine... I KNEW that stuff was toxic!