from The Globe and Mail:

Scent of a woman gets up bus drivers' noses
Calgary employees say they refused passenger because she wore too much perfume


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Natalie Kuhn likes to wear the perfume Very Irresistible, but two Calgary bus drivers think she's anything but and have refused to continue their routes with her on board.

The city was investigating Tuesday after Ms. Kuhn complained she was singled out three times in a week. In each case, her bus driver said she was wearing too much perfume.

“The bus driver had told her the day before that if she showed up wearing perfume in the amount that she did, he'd call a supervisor, and he did,” said Calgary Transit spokesman Tony McCallum, describing incidents on Thursday and Friday.


“Everything was fine for the first eight minutes of the bus ride, and then he pulled over and started opening all of the windows,” the 25-year-old said.

They began to argue, she said. With the bus parked and the other passengers waiting, Ms. Kuhn called the city to complain and the driver paged his supervisor. The standoff ended, again, with a transit employee arriving to escort Ms. Kuhn to her destination.

The incidents left her rattled. She's is now worried about taking the bus again and sobbed during interviews while describing the situation.

She was quoted saying that being asked to sit near an open window at the back of the bus made her feel like “a modern-day Rosa Parks.”

Ms. Kuhn insists that no other passengers complained about the use of her favourite perfume, which is made by Givenchy. But the situations appear to illustrate a growing unwillingness among some members of the public to put up with other people's odours.

Hell yeah! I can't stand perfume, unless it is extremely subtle and barely there, and I applaud the recent changes to rules in many different industries that restrict scent applications. More and more people suffer from scent allergies in part because of the abundance of scented products now available: laundry detergents, scented deodorants, body sprays, room "fresheners". From an article published in the Flavour and Fragrance Journal (2002, 17(5)), "The incidence of skin allergy to fragrance has increased with exposure. A conservative estimate is that 1 -2% of the population has skin allergy to fragrance. There is a direct correlation between use of scented products and development of skin allergy to fragrance." Additionally,

Fragrance is increasingly cited as a trigger in health conditions such as asthma, allergies and migraine headaches. In addition, some fragrance materials have been found to accumulate in adipose tissue and are present in breast milk. Other materials are suspected of being hormone disrupters. The implications are not fully known, as there has been little evaluation of systemic effects. There are environmental concerns as well, as fragrances are volatile compounds, which add to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Synthetic musk compounds are persistent in the environment and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife.

Paradoxically, now that many environments restrict scent applications, I think we notice them even more on the odd person who refuses to give up products like perfume, etc. I absolutely hate getting on a bus only to have someone take the seat next to me who doesn't understand that aftershave or cologne are effective in a dab rather than a bath-load. And yes, I'll move away from them if possible. I think the bus drivers in the story above are well within their rights to demand a safe and pleasant work environment. Plus, she's a chiropractic assistant, meaning she is leaning into, over, around people's bodies all day, subjecting the patients to an overdose of whatever Givenchy shit she's doused herself in. They might be too polite to mention the affront, so the bus drivers have saved her patients the embarrassment and the foul stench if this episode causes her to reduce her use of perfume or quit the stuff altogether.

What do you think? Am I an odor fascist? Do you agree or disagree with the drivers' actions? Are you a perfume addict?


  1. I totally agree with you. I grew up in a house where scented products were not used (other than maybe mildly scented laundry detergent, but NEVER perfumes, air freshners, fabric softners or any of that crap) and I am EXTREMELY sensitive to scents. I actually had to leave a meeting with a guy whose cologne was so heavy it was making me sneeze repeatedly and starting to clog up my airway.

    I never use perfume, but I will use body lotions mildly scented with some essential oils. Perfumes suck.

    Halifax, NS is a scent free city. It rules!

  2. I have a friend who is currently in battle with Workers Comp. in Ontario because they keep putting her in school that are OLD and MOLDY and with office staff that almost defy the rule of no scents.

    The whole Rosa Park comment was way out of line.

  3. I don't think you're an odour fascist, but as your local friendly librarian I do have to point out that you're not exactly in copyright compliance either ;-)

    Hey thanks for the help painting last night!

  4. I ask you... is B.O. Better? To sent or not to sent.

  5. I mean scent....

    man to I feel stupid. Do over?

  6. You're excused Marko!
    It's a good point, though, about BO. When the smoking ban came in I was living in Toronto, and the dance clubs just were not the same without a heavy fog of cigarette smoke. Who knew people sweat when they dance, and thus stink?

  7. I'd rather take a natural body smell than a perfumed smell any day.

  8. Anonymous8:09 p.m.

    and I'd rather read a fresh post...

  9. I can't see who you are so all I'll say is that I'd rather be under much less stress than I currently am and your inane comment couldn't come at a worse time. Sod off.