Horrific Hygienic Humor

It is amazing the lack of consideration coworkers can have for one another when it comes to personal hygiene and overall cleanliness. You’ve seen them…the person who spills coffee all over the counter in the break room and doesn’t bother to reach for the paper towel sitting on the nearby shelf to wipe it up. Is this the way they act in their own home? Their desk is bad enough. I’d hate to see what their bathroom looks like, although the office lavatory does give a not-so-subtle indication.

Unless you work in a beauty parlor, the sound of nail clippers is not something you would normally expect to hear in the workplace. Unfortunately for some, the office seems the perfect setting for taking care of those annoying personal hygiene issues. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the all too familiar “snipping” sound emanating from a colleagues’ office. What makes anyone think clipping their toenails into the office garbage can is acceptable behavior?

I have actually seen coworkers on their cell phone in the rest room. Do they not have any respect for the person on the other end of the line? There is a time and a place for everything and although phone starts with “p” it doesn’t belong anywhere near the “head.”

And who can possibly think cleaning your ears out with a Q-tip while sitting at your desk is going to get you promoted? Being known as the “Cerumen Crusader” is not a real career booster. How many times have you walked past someone’s office only to glance in and see them knuckle deep in one of their nostrils mining for boulders?

People ridding themselves of unwanted body excretions aren’t the only ones in the office who could use a little departmental delousing. According to a study by the University of Arizona, the average office desktop has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. That’s an unsettling thought knowing the state of the office restroom. And women’s desks harbor more germs than men’s. Women have three to four times the number of bacteria in, on and around their desks as men do, the study showed. “I thought for sure men would be germier,” Professor Charles Gerba says. “But women have more interactions with small children, and they keep food in their desks. The other problem is make-up.”

Heinous workplace hygiene crosses all social, economic and racial boundaries. Heaven forbid you have to sit in a meeting across from someone whose breath smells like week-old road kill possum. I purposely arrive for meetings early to sit away from one of the other managers. Oral odor has a narrow directional range of several feet and is proportional to the olfactory offender’s vocal volume. In this particular case it requires a ten foot radius.

While trench mouth is a line-of-sight offense, “superfumation,” the over-application of incensory fragrances, is multidirectional and lingers like a footprint in wet concrete. I know several women I can track throughout the building without ever actually seeing them. Weight seems to play a role in the longevity of the trail. I’m just saying.

Tissues, a pack of Tic-Tacks and a little common sense and courtesy can make the office a much less disgusting place. So next time you are stuck in the elevator with the annoying guy from accounting who works out at lunch in his suit, do yourself a favor and anonymously send him a bottle of Old Spice and charge it to the department. They don’t pay you enough to work with people who smell like a turtle cage.

Marc “Wiggy” Kovacs – Orator of Office Olfactory Offenses

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