“No shirt, no shoes, no freshness of oral and overall body odour, no service.”

Years ago I worked in a department store to pay my way through university.   To this day, my most vivid memory remains the day I signed my contract.

What stood out in the document was the section on the dress code.   Actually it was the bold type face addressing body odour: “both men and women are required to maintain freshness of oral and overall body odour while on the floor serving customers.”   I admit I wanted to laugh when I read that section.   I always took it for granted that with the exception of those whose circumstances placed these basics beyond their control (eg: homeless and those with glandular issues), not smelling offensive was part of basic social grace and etiquette.  Well, guess what?   It isn’t!

I work with the public from Monday to Friday.   Due to the nature of my work I am privy to the extent of peoples’ financial resources.   With that said, it is too often that I come across people I can smell before they reach the threshhold of  my office door.

These people are not suffering any illness or misfortune.   They aren’t coming in from a hard day of physical labour or the gym either.   They just have not washed.  And adding insult to injury is the fact that I know they  can afford to buy soap and use water every day.  Yet, for some reason they choose not to.  

I would like to know why.  Why do these people invade my work space expecting courteous service and a handshake when they have not shown me or my colleagues the courtesy of taking care of their hostile and aggressive body odour?  On more than one occasion I have watched colleagues come close to fainting after holding their breath too long while trying not to inhale the fumes coming off the client they were serving.     Personally, I have actually vomitted after such an encounter.

I admitt that from  from time to time we all smell a little less than fresh for whatever reason.  But there is a limit of decency on this.  When smells from your body and clothing reach the point of being described as pungent and the vapours are visible, it’s time for good scrub.  It’s time for soap, water, your body — entire body —  and clothing to become acquainted on very good and prolonged terms.   No, quick  “Soap meet Body, Body meet Soap.  Now say good bye.”  I’m talking about a very long and intimate encounter …

But, until that day comes I’ll just have to keep holding my breath waiting to see signs everywhere that read:   “No shirt, no shoes, no freshness of oral and overall body odour, no service.”



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