Claire Martin

This Stinks.

Image: Erika Straesser / EyeEm

Image: Erika Straesser / EyeEm

Over the last few months I’ve been forced to master the art of public transit from the perspective of one with a disability. (look back at past Claire posts for details)

When I first returned to my “day job” it was with a scooter and crutches.

It was a huge adjustment for me, I’m used to running everywhere — literally, I’m a marathoner — and here I am hobbling; I’m definitely not in my happy place. Likely returning to work “too soon”, I altered my commute times to avoid the rush hour, buses are busy!

Before I rant about one incident, it must be said that I’ve encountered wonderful bus drivers — who don’t leave bus stops until I’m safely seated — and have frequently met gracious souls offering random acts of kindness helping me get safely on, and off, the bus with all my gear.

I have felt aided; genuinely, honestly, unselfishly, aided through my complicated commute.

This week I ditched that damn “knee scooter” (what the hell IS a knee scooter, anyway?!) Now I slowly, slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y limp my way on and off transit.

Ok, so this happened two days ago.

On the bus I go – a little earlier than normal – as I try to get back to normalcy. As expected my bus was a bit more crowded, uh oh nowhere to sit …. until this wonderful gentleman jumped to his feet and offered me his seat. I sat. Gratefully.

“Made it” was running through my mind as the woman next to me, shifted. Then shifted again. Then fanned her face with her Metro Vancouver. I was honestly baffled.

She eventually started fussing, and sighing, then announced loudly that “people really shouldn’t wear perfume on public transit”.


I ignored her. Surely she wasn’t referencing me. I hadn’t dipped myself in granny spray — I’m wearing essential oils, love a good scented shampoo….and yes, I spritz perfume across my neck in the morning.

She got to her feet and wrenched open the bus window, then sat back down next to me…….

On went my ear-buds to catch up on the day’s news — bless my iPhone.

Voice raised now, she said “people are just so inconsiderate”.

I was horrified. Surely she wasn’t talking to me/about me?? I could feel the heat of a blush rising up my scented neck. I looked up. She was staring right at me.
Shit, she means ME! Being the apologetically polite Brit that I am, I got up and squeezed my way past a few tightly woven commuters, and their backpacks, to stand in the centre of the bus for the rest of the trip.

Ouch. My leg ached. Luckily no one could possibly know how scared I was to go tumbling down the main aisle.

Is it really insensitive of me to want to wear perfume?? I like scents. My hair products are scented. My laundry soap is scented. I will wander around perfume counters smelling the latest scents on the market. I like scents.

Am I really intruding on you if I smell good? Am I inscentsitive??

Apparently, it’s not me….it’s a “thing”.  Who knew? I went to a play last night, on the North Shore, a local community theatre group that I love  – and right there – in the program, it said “please, no perfumes in the playhouse”. Too late, I already spritzed … and am seated.

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  • Reply Christie September 25, 2016 at 12:15 am

    Sad to say I understand this woman’s frustration but I don’t think it is your fault. I get humongous migraines from perfume and have had to leave public transportation and be late for work to avoid it. But that is my health issue, not yours. What does irritate me is when people cough or sneeze without putting their hand or anything else in front of their mouth. That is just rude and unhealthy for everyone around them. You wearing perfume or scented shampoo or whatever it is your right.

    • Reply Jody Vance September 25, 2016 at 3:50 am

      You make very salient points. Certainly the germ-hack or open sneeze is the worst.

  • Reply Robyn Brown September 25, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    I’ve smelled so much worse on transit…the body odor from someone who doesn’t shower or wear deodorant, their armpit in my face, the stench of a heavy smoker, the breath of someone over top of you as you sit….believe me…I’ll take a spritz any day.

    • Reply Claire Martin October 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks.. that’s exactly how I feel!

  • Reply Ben Lu October 1, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Some of the deodorant smells putrid.

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