Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"You stink," she said politely.

I am still wheezing. My eyes are still watering. One of my students is a heavy smoker, and whenever she comes near me, I think I'm going to die. She smells so bad, some nights I think I WANT to die.

My allergies are getting worse as I get older. Or maybe it's just that I notice them more. All I know for sure is, no amount of soap or sandpaper is ever going to remove the accumulation of stenchy sludge from her skin and hair. And whenever she gets near me, I have a near-death experience.

How can I deal with this without hurting her feelings?

But then, if she really cared about other people, would she insist on standing an inch from my face, knowing she smells like the inside of an Auschwitz chimney? Or does she even KNOW she smells so awful? The other students are getting fed up with it, too. None of us knows quite what to do about it, though. Other than wear clothespins on our noses, that is.

I've heard that heavy smokers are so used to the smell that they truly don't notice it. (Kind of like people who live across the road from a rendering plant . . . .) And that sometimes, they are shocked and even outraged, that other people think they stink.

But the truth of the matter is, this woman stinks. She stinks up the entire classroom. I can even smell her breath when she answers questions from her desk. I can smell her breath across a crowded room. Her stale smoky breath is different from her stale smoky body. The combination could level armies. It's really bothering the other students. And me.

She's not unwashed. It's just that the smoke smell has permeated her entire being, and I don't think there's any help for it now. Tonight I finally got up the courage to ask her to step away from my desk, and I know it made her mad. In fact, whenever anyone in the room coughs or wheezes, she jerks her head around and glares.

I guess my main whine for tonight is, why are people who reek of old smoke always the ones who have no concept of personal space?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:00 AM | |


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