There is a certain segment of the population that I call “Stinkers”. Stinkers are people who have a particularly foul aroma and seem to be completely oblivious to that fact. They are dirty and unkempt and for some reason, they all shop at my store.
Now I don’t know if being a Stinker goes along with being poor, uneducated, unemployed, elderly or having a developmental disability; but from the people I have encountered, these unfortunate circumstances appear to be contributing factors. It’s really such a shame, because I wonder how their lives would be different if they just gave some attention to basic hygiene.
The odor is sour, like dirty musty laundry. It may be coming from their infrequently changed underwear or the winter coat that was dragged out of the closet, full of last years stink. I’ve smelled oily hair from three feet away and gagged over the smell of bad breath, and its funkier cousin, chronic halitosis. One tiny little elderly man came shuffling in, wearing a dark blue velvet suit. He looked quite dapper, but upon closer analysis he reeked of cat urine.
I keep a small bottle of fragranced spray under the desk to clear the air after a Stinker leaves. I feel like a bad person for being so repulsed by these odors. After all, I’m sure they are a natural byproduct of life, but is it really so hard to take a bath, brush your teeth and wash your clothes?
Since I moved back home with my family, I took a little break during the busy holiday season. I had full intentions of getting a job right way, but then there was snowstorm after snowstorm and there never seemed to be a good time to get out and job hunt. I reveled in each fresh blanket of snow; something about it absolutely enraptures me.
My car had been parked alongside the Morton building for about 2 weeks. Each time we scooped the driveway, the ridge of snow in front of it got bigger. Then right before my birthday, I decided to dig it out so that I could use it to go uptown to the local watering hole to commemorate the blessed event.
After a brisk 20 minutes of scooping, I was finally able to get to the car door. I figured I would start her up and let her run while I finished the job. Apparently the warm Missouri climate had spoiled Sadie and she didn't want to turn over in the chilly weather. I ended up borrowing mom's minivan for my birthday excursion instead. Over the next two days, my stepdad erected a shelter of sorts over the hood of my car. It was composed of plywood of various shapes and sizes, a tarp, cardboard and a baby swimming pool. Then he set up a heater and connected the battery charger and let it rejuvenate the engine. Eventually, she started and we were able to put her in the garage.
I finally got a job on February 1st. I drove Sadie to work the first 2 or 3 days. I had some trouble getting her started one day at lunch and then again that evening when I got off work. That night, on my way home, the air compressor went out (it hadn't worked right all summer either) and caused a terrible stink from under the hood. There is a turning part that decided to stop turning so the belt went over it and the friction was causing the belt to burn. I had the car looked at by our mechanic and he advised me that it wasn't worth fixing. The offending component was located under the engine and the cost of such a repair would be exorbitant.
Since that time, my parents have been really good sports about ushering me around. My stepdad drops me off in the morning and picks me up after work each day. Fortunately, we live only about a mile from the 'business district' aka 'uptown' aka 'the square'. I'm also lucky that my mother works about 2 blocks away and that we can go to lunch together nearly everyday.