Smelly People I Have Known, Part One

9 Jan

January 9, 2013

(I am open to any suggestions of a better title, BTW.)

In the comment section of Imponderable #75, Zathra brought up an issue that reminded me of three occasions in which I worked with people who had, shall we say, questionable hygiene.  See the gems you miss if you skip the comment section?

I’ve written about Audrey only once before, back in 2007 on my old MySpace (remember that?) blog, and later reprinted that post a few years later here as the best practical joke I ever played, The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. You can read the entire scheme here. In short, it began as a joke in which my accomplices and I sent flowers from a dim-witted friend named Marvin Ming to his crush and nearly ended with a restraining order.

One of the accomplices was a woman named Audrey, and this is what I wrote about her at the time, slightly edited:

Audrey was the security guard/garbage man of the store. Imagine a 300 pound black woman in her 30′s who cheerfully did all the heavy lifting, trash hauling, toilet-cleaning, and smelled like a rhino and you are getting warm. She was extremely nice though, and most people liked her. She also had a crush on a guy there. One day the guy was showing off his new electronic organizer (this was back in those pre-Blackberry days where if you had a two-line display and could input a phone number and a name you were cutting edge.) She wanted him to put her number in. This was her slick plan to get him to call her. He said he couldn’t, that he ran out of space for women’s names and could only fit men’s. She said “put it in as Aubrey, that’s French.” He replied that the organizer would know that she isn’t French and it wouldn’t work.

And yes, that fooled her.

Anyway, everyone liked Audrey, despite not being able to get too close to her. As I said, Audrey was the “security guard/garbage man” of the store. She began as a security guard and when it came to stopping shoplifters or breaking up a fight she was great. Security didn’t earn her much money though (it was a contracted position and she was not paid much by the contractor) and since she liked everyone at my store, and everyone liked her, she was hired. Problem was, the only position was in stock and maintenance, meaning that she would have to mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, and haul garbage. That was in addition to unloading trucks. The manager tried to talk her out of it, on the premise that it was not a job for a woman.  (The manager was a woman too, by the way, and no one at all liked her. One day in the future I’ll write about her, all the stuff she did to the staff and the hateful things the staff did to her.)

To Audrey’s credit, she did the job with just as much dedication as she did her security. She was an asset to the store.

Other stinkers of note: Joe Besser as Stinky on the Abbott and Costello show, Pig Pen from Peanuts, and Pepe Le Pew from smelly old France.

Other stinkers of note: Joe Besser as Stinky on the Abbott and Costello Show, Pig Pen from Peanuts, and Pepe Le Pew from smelly old France.

And a detriment. While she may have been smelly before, now that she cleaned the store’s toilets and handled huge bags of trash, she stunk to high heaven. She wore the same stained sweatshirt on the job (when she wasn’t in her security guard uniform) and never seemed to shower. The manager, in one of the only nice things I ever knew her to do, took her aside and then outside, to lunch in fact. They discussed (the manager talked and Audrey listened) what it was like to be a woman, how to present yourself, how to take care of your body, etc. She even presented Audrey with a bath set.

Now I heard all that first hand from Audrey. We worked together in the same department and yes, I cleaned the bathrooms and hauled trash same as her (until I worked out a promotion and therefore was able to schedule myself out of the shifts where I had to do most of that.) Hearing the story I felt very embarrassed for Audrey, thinking about how embarrassed she must have felt hearing all that from the boss. Were I on the receiving end of a speech like that I would have wanted to crawl into a hole.  But my attitude soon shifted to feeling embarrassed for Audrey, because she seemed to feel not a shred of shame or embarrassment at all. In fact she proudly showed her gift to many people in the store, telling them “the boss wants me to take care of myself.”

You may think, based on that last paragraph, that Audrey had a slight mental problem or something was wrong with her, but as far as I know she had no problems, and as the department supervisor I worked with her as much and probably more than anyone else. I believe that for whatever reasons, she had no one in her life and no one in her past ever was as “thoughtful” as the boss appeared to be, caring about her wellbeing and wanting to make sure she took good care of herself. She was truly touched.

I do admit though, that Audrey was a bit blind to A- how it appeared to everyone else and B- her own odor.

After that, Audrey did wear cleaner clothes and she did seem personally cleaner herself. However, she remained pretty smelly for as long as I knew her.


The next person who was told he stunk was Marvin Ming himself and who had to tell him? Me.




2 Responses to “Smelly People I Have Known, Part One”

  1. JRD Skinner (@JRDSkinner) January 9, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Yikes, but, Marvin!


  2. zathra January 9, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    Funny how these folks are usually blissfully unaware of their own odor.
    I read where Elvis – No matter how much he showered & bathed, etc. – Had a musky aroma that nothing could quite dispel, which possibly ATTRACTED the ladies to him. Pheremones.


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