Smell the Coffee: Smell the ... not coffee

If you happen to have found this column clipped from the paper and left on your desk or slipped into your coat pocket — then ... um. We need to talk.

I know there’s a good chance we’ve never actually met, so I can’t say for certain, but if this was left for you to find, please trust someone believes there’s an issue.

It’s about your aroma. There’s a bit too much of it.

I’m not sure if this is body odor we’re talking about or an overabundance of cologne or if you’re under the impression no one is aware you smoked weed in your car. Regardless of the source of the scent, the outcome is the same.

It’s enough to curl nose hairs. Something needs to be done.

I have a friend who works in human resources and has had to talk with staff members about hygiene.

“I’d almost prefer having to tell them they’re being let go,” she said. “It seldom goes well.”

She said fragrances are becoming more of an issue in her office than body odor. Younger workers seem to believe cologne can disguise the fact they’ve not showered; and older workers have become so accustomed to their cologne they don’t smell it anymore, so they double or triple the dose — not realizing they’ve made it so strong you can practically see it.

“If someone ever tells me I have a signature scent,” she said, “I’m going to take it as a hint I’m wearing too much.”

Skunks have signature scents. So do dumpster divers.

I’m a bit hypersensitive to fragrances myself, not because of allergies, but because my mom has always been hugely allergic. I’ve avoided using scented cleaners or body products with fragrance on the chance she would visit and it would trigger a reaction.

Once, I bought Mom tickets to a play she badly wanted to see. I got our seats down close to the stage, thinking it would lessen the likelihood of someone sitting near us who had bathed in fragrance. Just as the show was about to begin, two women took the seats directly in front of us.

The amount of perfume each was wearing was so excessive it was causing a chemical reaction to occur in the air. I could actually taste it.

It was foul.

So foul if we’d had a cat with us, it would’ve tried kicking sand over them. A dog might’ve attempted to roll.

We were forced to flee.

I’ve heard about a few churches with fragrance-free zones. I wish that idea would spread to include workplaces and public transportation.

I recently spent a few hours on a flight seated next to a woman who was wearing a bit too much cologne. It was a nice, clean scent, yet soon became overpowering in the commuter plane’s confined quarters. During my short time beside her, enough of that scent transferred onto me to trigger a reaction from Mom, whom I’d traveled to see.

It’s an awkward situation with strangers — and generally impossible to rectify — but with co-workers, friends and family members, there are ways to correct the offense. So long as the recipient is open to receiving the news.

People need to recognize there are times they’re receiving a message disguised as something free.

Like when they’re offered a breath mint. Or the name of a good dental hygienist.

They need to be open to the fact that if deodorant or a toothbrush has been left on their desk, it wasn’t because someone had a good coupon.

It’s a sign.

And if you found this bit of newsprint clipped and left on your desk, so is this.

Karin Fuller can be reached at

Funerals for Friday, January 17, 2020

Allen, Margaret - 11 a.m., First Baptist Church, Craigsville.

Ashley, Connie - 11 a.m., Matics Funeral Home, Clendenin.

Cardwell, Sebastian - 1 p.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Chapman, Dovie - 1 p.m., Krantz-McNeely Funeral Home, Man.

Crowder, Betty - 11 a.m., First Baptist Church of Racine, Racine.

Deeds, Virginia - 1 p.m., Montgomery Memorial Park, London.

Dunbar, Harold - 1 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Facemire Sr., Billy - 1 p.m., Big Union Baptist Church, Dille.

Frampton Sr., Kevin - 1 p.m. Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Halstead Sr., James - 1 p.m., Living Faith Christian Church, Marmet.

Kesterton, Tammy - 6 p.m., The Open Door Apostolic Church, Charleston.

Parkins, Keith - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Pyles, Richard - 2 p.m., Wilcoxen Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Sims, Gerald - 2 p.m., Preston Funeral Home, Charleston.

Spencer, Donna - 2 p.m., Alderson Church of the Nazarene, Alderson.

Stewart, Regina - Noon, WV Memorial Gardens, Calvin.

Teel, Joseph - 2 p.m., Atkins Family Cemetery, South Charleston.

Tully, John - 12:30 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Utt, Doris - 3 p.m., Independence Cemetery, Sandyville.

Walker, Lakin - Noon, Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

West, Mary - 1 p.m., Morris Memorial United Methodist Church, Charleston.

Wiblen Sr., Russell - Noon, Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.