Photo: The Cut

By: Alison Green\The

Dear Boss,

A week ago, a manager in another department, who is also a friend, sat me down in her office and talked to me because, apparently, I am the smelly co-worker.

She was very kind and I could tell that it was incredibly hard for her. I think I took the beginning of the conversation well. I’m incredibly sensitive to scented products (severity ranging from itchiness to full-on hives) and had just recently changed deodorants after the one I had been using was discontinued. Unscented products don’t always work well, so I was responsive to that. However, she mentioned that it was an ongoing issue and had gotten to the point that several co-workers had asked her about it (in her words, out of concern) and that our store manager and my previous department manager had mentioned it to me.

This is where I became mortified. I remember the specific instances she was referring to and they were not framed as “this is an ongoing issue.” With my department manager, I was running late to work and made it there without part of my uniform. I only had a shirt that I had tossed in my trunk a while ago. My manager mentioned that I didn’t smell great and that because she was pregnant it was hard for her to be around me. We went to a back office, and I took off the shirt and asked her to smell it and then me. She said it was 100 percent the shirt. We asked the same co-worker who gave me this recent talk and she agreed (she remembered the incident when I mentioned it). That was what my old department manager considered “talking to me about it.”