At work the other day, D. went to the break room to brew a pot of coffee. For whatever reason, her coffee always fills the office with a gut-rotting stench. But about five minutes after the brewing is complete, the stink dissipates. Ms. Drug Seeker turned to The Angry Old Woman and asked if the smell was making her sick. Between the two of them, they decided they were on the verge of vomiting if they had to smell the vapors any longer. So, Ms. Drug Seeker got out a can of Industrial/Professional Use Only “Odor Eliminator” (“Tuf Odors” by SC Johnson) and started to spray it in all directions. She later claimed to have only lightly spritzed the product twice. D. came out of the break room and unwittingly walked into a giant perfumed chemical fog that filled the air around her desk. D. staggered in to my office, collapsed onto one knee of the carpet and gasped, “Someone……..sprayed………something…..”
Of course, the boss was at a meeting, so as “assistant manager”, it became my duty to deal with these asshats and a gassed employee. I took her outside the office, but that only put us into the fog from the smokers, so I took her all the way outside the building. It was 15 degrees and I was thinking the cold air wasn’t good for this induced asthma attack, so I asked if she had any medication. D. indicated that an ex-co-worker on the third floor kept an inhaler in her purse. I told D. not to move, and ran up the stairs. I told ex-co-worker (ECW) that D. needed the inhaler and she came back down the stairs with me. When we got outside, D. wasn’t there. I had visions of her passing out and tumbling down the steps into traffic, but I didn’t see a mob surrounding a victim anywhere, so we went back inside. We found D. sitting on the floor in the hallway. She was unable to stand because of the drop in her blood pressure…she was still having trouble breathing. Karen brought out some coffee for D., as she’d heard caffeine helps open airways.
I left D., Karen, and ECW in the hall to medicate, and then turned to defuming the store. The smell was overwhelming! It seeped out of the store and people out on the street could smell it! I opened both doors in the front, then went to the back of the store to open the overhead door where the deliveries are received. The smell would NOT go away! Other staff members were fumed-out by that time, and had to leave in shifts to get fresh air for the next FOUR HOURS. I can only imagine this “deodorizer” is used to spray down dumpsters or large arenas…it should never be used in an office of less than 10,000 square feet!
When the boss returned, he got Ms. Drug Seeker and The Angry Old Woman in his office to hear their side of the story. He told them to just take a break the next time the coffee smell gets to be “too much” and that no one was allowed to spray ANYthing in the office again. He then confiscated the can of spray. Ms. Drug Seeker did actually seem penitent over the situation…she apologized and said she never expected what happened to happen. On the other hand, The Angry Old Woman maintained that D. was “faking it” for attention and just to get them in trouble. She explained that D. had never said she’d had asthma, so asked how could she just have developed it today. The boss said people didn’t know he was diabetic and that some people don’t talk about their medical conditions at work. Not to be dissuaded, The Angry Old Woman pulled out the clincher….her GRANDson had asthma, and he couldn’t be around animals, and it was a “known fact” that D. had cats and dogs living in her house. The Angry Old Woman sat in her chair triumphantly, convinced of her version of reality.