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Asthmatic Woman Called Out For Refusing To Sit Next To Coworker Due To His ‘Horrendous’ Smell

Piotr Marcinski/ EyeEm/GettyImages

Telling someone a difficult truth about themselves is never easy.

But it must be done, especially if they make life uncomfortable.

It’s a fine line of finesse and it probably won’t go as planned.

Case in point…

Redditor throwaway9261035811 wanted to discuss her experience and get some feedback. So naturally, she came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

She asked:

“AITA for refusing to sit next to a co worker due to his smell and not denying the reason why when I was asked?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I 22 F[emale] work an office job.”

“I’m very friendly and I get along with everyone.”

“I would personally say I’m friends with most of my co workers with the exception of Jay 31 M[ale].”

“I don’t have anything personal against him but I’m asthmatic and I have a VERY sensitive nose and for the lack of better words Jay stinks.”

“It’s not that he’s not taking care of himself but the cologne he uses is absolutely horrendous in my opinion and he sweats a lot.”

“So he always smells strongly of cologne, sweat and sometimes garlic since he often eats it raw in the lunch area.”

“I never said anything to him about it since it’s not my place.”

“But I’ll generally try to avoid sitting too close to him unless it’s work related.”

“Recently Jay started to become a lot more friendly towards me.”

“Some co worker told me that he has a crush on me but I don’t know if that’s true.”

“This resulted in him trying to sit next to me during a meeting, on lunch breaks and trying to hang around my cubicle whenever possible.”

“I tried to politely endure it at first but as the weather got hotter his smell got even worse.”

“To the point where I start to have gag reflexes when I’m around him for too long.”

“Now whenever he sits next to me I just give him a polite smile, move away and make myself look busy, hoping he’ll get the hint.”

“This week we had a particularly bad heat wave in my city.”

“And like every week Jay again tried to sit next to me.”

“But this time I couldn’t endure his smell for even a moment so I would just stand up and move.”

“Yesterday he confronted me about it saying he’s hurt by my actions and asked me why I was acting that way towards him.”

“When I gave him a vague answer he didn’t believe me and got even closer to me.”

“At this point I couldn’t control my gag reflex and almost vomited on him.”

“He looked hurt and asked me if I thought he stunk.”

“I didn’t answer and just told him that he’s making me uncomfortable and asked him to please step away from me.”

“Today I’m off work, but I got a text from another co-worker saying that I deeply hurt Jay feelings and now he’s super self conscious of his smell.”

“I’m starting to feel bad and I don’t know if I’m the a**hole in this situation.”

“But at the same time I don’t know what I could’ve done differently.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA?:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared our OP was NOT the A**hole.

It’s a tricky situation.

Let’s hear some thoughts…

“NTA. If he is eliciting a gag reflex in you there is nothing you can actually do about that.”

“It’s a reflex it is by nature uncontrollable.”

“Eating raw garlic or any other very strongly smelling food that will seep through your body at work is antisocial, as is wearing excessive amounts of cologne or perfume.”

“He could also invest in a stronger deodorant.”

“This is the most important one… you have made it clear through your actions that you are not interested in him.”

“He is continuing to push himself on you. He is being a pest.”

“Weaponizing colleagues to try to force you to like him is harassment.”

“This is a work environment and his refusal to take a hint that you are not interested in him is actually massively inappropriate.”

“Jay is obviously doesn’t actually think about anyone but himself or he would be more aware.”

“So your ‘dislike’ is well founded.”

“You may need to be blunt with your colleagues.”

“You do find the way he smells offensive and his insistence on trying to be near you after you have made it clear you are not interested is inappropriate and makes you uncomfortable.”

“No one would expect you to put up with this kind of behavior if you were male.” ~ Whitestaunton

“Ignoring the first 2 points, even if the smell was not the issue, his behavior is unacceptable.

“Being pushy when shown the lack of interest on the other side, no matter what the reason is, is harassment.”

“OP, NTA. Tell your colleague that it is not their business to get involved.”

“But explain that you felt harassed by this guy.”

“Don’t focus only on bad smell, explain unwanted attention as well.”

“Same message to the guy himself. If shameful he is playing the victim.”

“Tell him you believe he is nice guy probably BUT you are not interesting in him and to leave you alone.”

“In addition to try to work on his smell issue- you surely aren’t the only one in the office that noticed.”  ~ Zealiida

“Please please please OP all of this and go to your manager (and then to HR if need be).”

“This is harassment and this is a work environment problem.”

“It is your manager’s problem to solve, and it gets a witness for you.”

“Because a good manager will keep an eye out for the behavior so they can follow up with HR as well ‘OP told me” is shakier than ‘I observed.'”

“As a manager: I have had to have the ‘you stink, you need to shower’ conversation with an employee.”

“A colleague in his department was getting migraines from the smell and she came to me.”

“It was absolutely the worst management conversation I’ve ever had.”

“But that’s my job as a manager, wasn’t her job as a young front line employee.”  ~ AinsiSera

“OP, you’ve been encultured to be nice and polite. You have asthma.”

“You should openly say to everyone that you cannot be near cologne because you will have an asthma attack.”

“This guy feels bad, one because one of your mean coworkers played a trick on you both, and 2, you weren’t straightforward.”

“I’m going to give an NAH because I know women are trained to suppress saying what they need.”

“But you need to start saying it.”  ~ OddAsk9838

“Definitely NTA, the third point specifically, you are not required to reciprocate your colleagues feelings for you.”

“And by him continuing to push those on you he is making a toxic work environment for you.”

“Honestly I would report it to HR if he continues to ‘not take the hint.'” ~KittenLOVER999

“Take the smell out of it.”

“You have a 31 year old who is always sitting next to, and hanging around another persons cubicle with no indication that their presence is wanted.”

“You have said 22 year old avoiding 31year old and then confronted by them to appease them more.”

“22 year old gave a vague answer and 31year old tried to intimidate them.”

“When told no 22 year old got harassed by coworkers on 31 year olds behalf.”

“You have a hostile work environment.”

“And the fact everyone thinks it is sexual in nature and are fine with that is something they all need HR involved in correcting.”

“It is not appropriate in the work place or anywhere else for this unwanted attention to be tolerated. NTA.” ~ ohno_spaghetti_o

“Exactly this.”

“OP needs to record incidents where she has attempted to calmly remove herself from the situation that this creep has put her in.”

“Dates, details, witnesses.”

“Those people who believe the creep likes her just became witnesses for HR.”

“This needs to be a formal HR complaint to tell him to back off.”

“Because clearly the 22 year old telling him in behavior and words that she is not interested is not enough.”

“He’s apparently one of those men that needs to hear from everyone else that he is making someone uncomfortable.”

“After a couple of meetings the HR people will also be wanting to address the smell, especially if it’s just after garlic break time.”

“But the smell is the minor issue.”

“The creep creeping is the big issue.” ~ whyamisoawesome9

“NTA. You have tried to be subtle to the best of your ability and the stench of garlic, cologne and sweat is unbearable to you.”

“I think it may be best to be honest with him, it could actually help him because I am sure other people feel the same way.”

“He might stop consuming raw garlic at work (who does that?) and being more aware of his bodily odor.”  ~ Various-Bridge-325

OP, you can’t work in those conditions.

Sometimes we have to tell the truth.

Sounds like it’s time for you to chat with the higher ups.

It’s their turn to let loose the truth.

Good luck.