I am a picky eater. Certain foods and textures literally make me sick to my stomach. This also translates to smells; I'm sensitive in all sorts of weird ways. Now, apply this to retail, and you get an inkling.
Sometimes it's an advantage, particularly over my coworkers. There was a gentleman who entered the store that some of my fellow employees were recoiling from. And I call him a gentleman because he had the heart to be apologetic and to aim his mouth away from the people he approached. He explained that he had paid a visit to the newest addition to our stip mall: an Italian food restaraunt. Yep. Garlic. And not like the mild "I just ate garlic bread, sorry" kind of garlic smell. This poor fellow smelled like he plucked a clove straight from the bulb and chowed down on it, fresh and straight.
Luckily for our store, I'm an Italian mix (great great grandma was 98 before she passed away and was an immigrant from Sicily) and we make use of garlic in our family recipes. So while the poor guy smelled strong, he did not smell bad to me. The fresh garlic smell was potent, but my only complaint was that it made me hungry. I wanted me some spaghetti after helping him, let me tell you! I was able to help him find his books and ring him up while the other cowards hid themselves away. I felt particularly smug about that. No one else wanted to help him.
Now for the other end of the spectrum. As some people here at RHU have complained, some people fucking marinate in their spray on. And unlike the garlic in my last story, I cannot handle some brands. I can only describe it as being allergic, though I don't have allergic reactions in the way you'd expect. No hives. No itching. No anaphalactic shock or epi pens.
And I don't mean "Achoo! Ugh, sorry!" I mean I start sneezing and I cannot stop until I flee.
This woman comes in through the front door and just a waft of it tickles my nose. She had to have liberally sprayed herself from head to toes. My eyes water and I get that horrible itching sensation deep in my sinuses that says all torpedos are loaded and they are waiting for the command to fire.
I flee to the manager and have a desperate whispered conversation that I'm allergic to this woman's purfume and please dear god someone else has to ring her up. I will shelve DVD's, I will alpabetize CD's, I will individually polish each and every book in the musty, dusty back room if you just send anyone else but me to the registers for five goddamn minutes.
"I'm sorry Bookstore Slave, but you're just going to have to muddle through this. We can't spare anyone and you cannot insult a customer by refusing them service because of the way they smell. Now get over there before she starts complaining."
asdfghjkl; I didn't say she smelled bad I said I was fucking allergic, you asshole!
I shlog back to registers and she's waiting patiently by the registers. And I get a face full of the 6 foot cloud she has wafting around her. WHAMMO! My nose, which had been tentatively calming down during the time I had been having my desperate conversation with the manager, screamed RED ALERT and fired. And kept firing.
*ah-choo!* I- *ah-choo* th- *ah-choo* think *ah-choo!* I *ah-choo!* Son of a *ah-choo!*
The lady looks startled by my reaction. "Goodness honey are you all right?"
*ah-choo!* N-No... *ah-choo!*
I manage to dive under the registers and seize three tissues, in between three more sneezes, and cover my nose. The tissue helps filter and my sneezing slows down, but my eyes are now watering like hell and probably redder than a stoner's.
"Good gracious! I've never seen an attack like that. Run to the restroom and wash your face off with cold water. It will get the allergens off your skin. I'll ask someone else to ring me up."
"T'ang kew!" I flee to obey the customer's surprisingly knowedgeable suggestion and she waves over the manager, who has been standing at Info watching the whole spectacle.
Total: 14 sneezes in less than 2 minutes, a pounding heart, eyes that watered for five minutes, and red stoner eyes for the rest of the evening.
I was a mess and basically splashed water all over my face and scrubbed it with those cheap paper towels they have in the bathroom for drying hands off. On one hand, Jesus Tapdancing Christ Lady! Tone down on that shit! On the other, thank you for being understanding enough to give me a reason to send me running in the opposite direction.
The manager never apologized, and I ultimately repeated that incident three times over the course of my job at Hoarders. I still have yet to find a way to prevent such incidents. It's not like blocking the actuall smell of the stuff will stop me fron sneezing, as my reaction is to the particles of perfume themselves.
May all your customers be nice,