This is part 3 of my series where I address some of the comments I’ve heard and read and provide a view from someone who suffers similar problems to those of Susan McBride. See the previous entries:
7) “Why don’t you just stay home?”
We didn’t tell that to the people who were bothered by cigarette smoke. We didn’t tell that to the people that needed a wheel chair ramp. Although, I suspect that many of you who would suggest that I stay home would make the same suggestion to the person in a wheel chair. But for the fact that it wouldn’t be politically correct…
8 ) “Why don’t you work somewhere without fragrances?”
And then when I ask where, you tell me to start my own business. Great idea. Would you like to give me the money to get that started?
As if everyone could start a business and immediately have money to support themselves? That’s not a relistic answer at all.
9) “Why don’t you just wear a mask?”
What happens when it permeates my clothing, gets into my car?
The entire intent of the modern fragrance is that it permeates everything. They use VOCs because the are volatile. That helps the scent remain airborn. Until it lands on something, like my clothes.
It may sound trivial to you (I see you out there rolling your eyes), but to those of us with a chemical sensitivity, these fragrances come home with us. B/c we wear no fragrance, we can smell it. Whereas if you wear all kinds of fragrances already, you won’t notice it. (Liken it to how you feel after going into a smoke-filled bar – it’s the same thing to the chemically sensitive.)
So I can’t take the mask off when I leave the office b/c it is in my clothes. Once I’m in my car, the smell is in my car. So, pretty much, I’ll have to wear the mask EVERY time I’m in my car. Then I come home, I have to change clothes and shower for the second time that day.
And worst of all, I have to relive that fragrance in my clothes when I go to do the laundry. Wear a mask? You’re forcing me to be like the boy in the bubble. It was OK for him b/c he was only one person. But there are literally millions of us. More than anyone truly knows.
10) “For some women perfume is essential to their sense of femininity; they never leave home without spraying some on. It would be the epitome of unfairness to ban perfume in the workplace to accommodate just one employee.”
First, if Priscilla needs perfume to feel feminine, then she needs some serious help. We shouldn’t all have to suffer her perfume just to accomodate her feelings of inadequacy.
Second, for every Susan McBride that comes forward, there are likely many others that will be helped. In fact, she’s doing everyone a favor by getting these toxins out of the workplace. Every office needs a Susan McBride.
See the previous entries: