In today’s society, we have many modern technologies: cellphones, the Internet, meat-flavoured alternatives, artificial turf, and – my personal favourites – running water and deodorant. While the concept of running water and deodorant may not be new to most people in Canadian society, it remains a mystery to some of those who are either newly-arrived or wilfully-ignorant. Possibly both.
I work at a place where multiculturalism is embraced and tolerance is enshrined in our Employee Code of Ethics. But here’s where that code needs to take a backseat: tolerating personal hygiene practices that are fit for a wildebeest. Sweet Jesus, there are times when some people approach me and I’m introduced to body odour that has its own opinions on world issues. What can I do about this? It’s not like I can say, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the argument for debt relief being made by the smell wafting from the neck and armpits of your shirt.” No, I have to tolerate this and blink away tears in the fervent hope that I can either inconspicuously shift my body’s position upwind or wrap up the conversation faster than a blind-date gone awry.
And it doesn’t stop there: I am privileged to bear witness to people not washing their hands after going to the washroom or skipping the shower after working out. Holy shit. The next time I see you, be prepared to be disinfected with gasoline and a match. Want to shake my hand? Watch me find a reason not to; I’m resourceful. Want to have a meeting with me? Sure thing, we’re meeting in the field across the street.
It’s not like we’re living in the 16th century when bathing was something only the nobles did. And don’t think you can mask that odour with copious amounts of cologne or perfume – that shit will still break through. No, we live in a society where water is run to our homes and deodorant is widely available. And, please, don’t try to tell me it’s cultural because here in Canada we bathe, wash our hands, and deodorize. So let’s make a deal: you take a shower and put on some deodorant and I’ll leave the matches and gasoline at home.