Back in 2014, the office was undergoing expansion. The only trouble was that the expansion was separated from the existing workspace by a thin ply. We could hear the incessant sounds of workmen and their tools, and it was distracting, but it paled in comparison for what came next: the paint.
We were about 40 people in the office at that point, and I was fortunate enough to be seated at the opposite end of this assault on our sense of smell. All I remember was a mildly offensive stench, occasionally wafting over to my seat. I detest the smells of anything “chemical”, for the lack of a better explanation, like petrol, nail varnish, paint, and glue, to name a few. In fact, those sorts of smells are one of my migraine triggers.
It didn’t occur to me that the people sitting closer to the Veil of Stench were rather badly off. And I was thus surprised to see a flurry of company-wide emails at first pleading for a solution, and then threatening consequences such as a walk out, a vomit session, and, in one particularly funny email, a fainting spell.
The operations team swung into action, and came up with several solutions. I use the term “solutions” very kindly, because this is what they thought would combat the appalling, faint-inducing stench:
- Placing halved lemons in a bowl atop each table
- Lighting candles (not scented, mind you, just the ordinary white ones) sitting dangerously in glass bowls on the floor
- Placing quartered onions next to the lit candles
- Emptying countless cans of air freshener in various fragrances (citrus, pine, lavender, etc.) all together
- Turning the A/C on full blast, and cracking open a window
I didn’t have much to do at the time, so I watched these measures in bemused silence. Our office looked like the sound stage for a low-budget horror movie. Here is some photographic evidence:
We slowly got over the hilarity of it all, and went back to work. Although the expressions of a few people, who had come in that day for interviews, were absolutely priceless.