Vintage Stuff: To Be, ‘O Not To B.O.

Published in “One Lump or Two,” March 2003 – Click here to view the PDF

Today’s question is a question of office etiquette: “How do I deal with a co-worker with a bad B.O.?” This is a question that may possibly tread on delicate soil but only if you happen to be the one with B.O. Don’t feel as if we’re picking on you simply because of your B.O. We’ve put up with your personal brand of perfume up until now. The least you can do is read this with an open mind and elbows pressed tightly against your ribs.

With B.O., it is truly better to give than to receive. In fact, the offender, who from here on out will be referred to as Mr. Pitts, may be unwittingly offending. First and foremost, be polite and understanding. Mr. Pitts is a person with feelings just like the rest of us. Just because he’s immune to his own rankness doesn’t mean he’s immune to insults. There are three options to choose from to broach the subject, which may or may not yield the desired outcome (Mr. Pitts meets Mr. Right Guard). It can’t hurt to try. I mean, right about now your even willing to don a gasmask, right?

Option 1

The most popular way in which coworkers attempt to solve this problem is by dropping a little of their own money to purchase a nice container of the leading brand of deodorant. You can even wrap it in a little box as a present with a card attached reading, “Open in private.” This is probably the most polite way in which you can tell Mr. Pitts that he is quite odoriferous while retaining your anonymity. Unfortunately, Mr. Pitts may not understand the gift. He may see it as some type of joke or misplaced present. Think there’s no way he wouldn’t comprehend such a gesture? Remember, he can’t comprehend the concept of armpit hygiene in the first place, even after hundreds of commercials and advertisements clearly stating that their product helps you shroud your armpit odor with products strong enough for a gorilla but made for your puny body.

Option 2

A more forward approach to this problem is to find the office nice guy and ask him to “have a little talk” with Mr. Pitts. This way, Mr. Pitts gets some one-on-one with someone who is compassionate and understanding. Here is a little skit that you may or may not draw from:

Mr. OfficeNiceGuy: “Mr. Pitts, I gotta ask you something but I was wondering if we could talk in private.”

Mr. Pitts: “Sure.”

Mr. OfficeNiceGuy: “I was wondering, Mr. Pitts, are you by chance a time traveler? I couldn’t help but notice that you don’t seem to wear deodorant. I know that people long ago lacked basic hygiene and…well, I guess what I’m asking is, can I go back and forth through time in your time machine?”

Mr. Pitts: “Time machine? What are you talking about? I’m not a time traveler!”

Mr. OfficeNiceGuy: “Oh yeah? Then how do you explain the fact that you don’t wear deodorant? Huh? There’s no way you could be a contemporary human and not know that you have to mask your armpits with a non-permeable layer of scented product which may or may not leave a white flaky mess! You’re holding out on me! I want a ride in that time machine, you hear?”

Mr. Pitts: “There’s no time machine, I tell ya! Just because I don’t wear deodorant doesn’t make me a time traveler!”

Mr. OfficeNiceGuy: “Well, I’d start wearing deodorant if I were you! Everybody here wants to use your time machine! Maybe using deodorant will show them that you are not a time traveler, but if I find out you have a time machine…!”

Option 3

There is one last way to go about this but it’s risky. So risky in fact that this would be a good time to send the interns into the other room. OK, so you’ve tried everything. As a last resort, you could send in the office hottie to try to persuade him to smell nice. Odds are Mr. Pitts is single (and for good reason). Ms. OfficeHottie only has to talk to Ms. RunnerUpOfficeHottie within earshot of Mr. Pitts and say something to this effect: “Boy, I know that all my hottie friends and I like men who wear ‘Brand X’ deodorant. The more they wear, the better! Yes, all my hottie friends and I talk about this when we go out on hottie night!” Ms. RunnerUpOfficeHottie can respond with, “I wholeheartedly agree but my hottie friends and I are willing to settle for ‘Brand Y’ as long as he starts wearing it like now!” You can buy these two girls a can of Red Bull or whatever it is girls like this like nowadays.

Remember, Mr. Pitts is a real person with real bad B.O. Sure it’s not your job to teach him how to take the cap off the deodorant before applying it to his armpit but, like many other office tasks, if you don’t do it yourself, it probably won’t get done. Your job may stink but the air you breathe shouldn’t.

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