Working at a small law firm definitely has its perks. You’ll be able to get to know most, if not all, of the partners on a one-on-one basis; oftentimes, you’ll be able to bring in clients to the firm as a mere associate; and perhaps most importantly, your job won’t make you hate the law quite as much, because the overall environment will be more friendly and collegial.

But on the flip side of that analysis, such collegiality can sometimes lead to misplaced casualness in terms of emails about office behavior. It’s just that your office is so small that sending off-the-cuff nastygrams can become commonplace. You’d be surprised how quickly an email request that others not use your french vanilla coffee creamer can turn into an f-bomb-laden screed.

So you can only imagine the kind of email that would be sent if there was a nasty stench pervading the nostrils of all who inhabited the office….

Apparently someone at this firm cooked something that smelled so foul, or showed up to the office and reeked so badly, that the fetid odor required numerous sprays — or about “77 sprays,” per the email title here — of perfume or air freshener to keep it at bay. The smell was so overwhelming that the sender of this email thought people at the firm needed instructions on how to be less disgusting human beings:

If we are spraying because of odors from food, I ask that those who are cooking the offending foods please think of the office as a professional workplace and limit such smells.

If we are spraying because of people odors, please make sure you are showered and your clothes are laundered so you do not offend your fellow co-workers and disrupt the professional workplace.

Come on, if you need to be given instructions on how to make sure you don’t smell like your loan payments require that you live in a dumpster, you’re doing it wrong. If “people odors” were behind the overspraying of perfume or air freshener at this firm, it’s insulting to all of the people who are scrapping for work in this thing we call a legal economy. Note to job seekers: perhaps you should add “showering daily” to the interests section of your résumé — it’ll put you ahead of the stinkier competition.

I cannot imagine how bad something smells downstairs for the amount of spray that has come up the stairs. Right now, I have severe pain in my nose and it is not fun. The taste of the spray in my mouth is even less enjoyable. If you need to spray that much, then you need to speak to the person who cooked something bad, or may have an odor problem.

Spraying is not going to solve any of those issues. If I cook something that smells, I know it and if I smell, I would like someone to let me know.

We can all agree that smelly food is a much easier problem to fix than smelly people, but looks like someone at this firm would like to use a “say it, don’t spray it” model when dealing with odiferous employees. Unfortunately, there’s really no polite way to tell someone that they’ve got issues with body odor. It’s something that’s sure to be an incredibly awkward conversation that may make you wish you’d simply placed some antiperspirant on the offender’s desk with a note that reads: “Please use me.”

Besides, most people would rather be shown the deodorant than shown the door.


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