The number of people who cannot smell has gone up exponentially in the past year due to strange neurological effects from the ongoing pandemic, but before that, it was a pretty rare condition. Anosmia didn’t show up in most folks, and the folks who had it most likely didn’t even know what they were missing.
This case showed up for Redditor 99velk, an anosmic who was driving a party to a wedding. However, the route they chose was difficult for their passengers with a sense of smell.
Wondering if they really made a huge mistake, they went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for feedback.
“AITA for refusing to take a ‘longcut’ and driving my sister past a stinky farm?”
Our original poster, or OP, was driving a low-traffic route to save some time.
“My sister (21F[emale]) had a wedding she had to attend out-of-state. Since she didn’t have a car at the time, I offered to drive her and 2 of her friends.”
“I’d driven this way twice before. I remembered that I had learned that at one point, I could ignore my GPS’s suggestion for taking a more roundabout route, and take a straight-shot on a long rural road.”
“This road goes on for about 10 miles, almost no intersections or lights. The only things you pass are a state penitentiary, and 3 massive factory farms.”
“When we got to this point on our drive, I noticed that this ‘shortcut’ route had essentially no traffic on it, while there was moderate traffic if I avoided it. I wondered why no one really ever took this way.”
OP made us aware of their lack of the sense of smell.
“Some important background: I personally have anosmia – almost no sense of smell. I’m not really too sure what the sensation of ‘smell’ is like for most people.”
“So, I start driving down this path, and my sister’s friend suddenly said ‘wait a minute, why are you taking this way?'”
“I said ‘what do you mean, it’s the fastest way and there’s no traffic, why wouldn’t I take this way.'”
“All 3 were paying attention now, and saying to each other ‘Isn’t this that prison road…yeah, people don’t go this way in the summer…'”
But then learned this way smelled horrible to people who could smell.
“I was perplexed and asked what was wrong, and my sister said that the smell is horrific.”
“She said that she could smell the farms even taking the ’roundabout’ route last time and it was unbearable from miles away, and was urging me more insistently now to turn around.”
“Well, I told them there’s no way it could be that bad.”
“I wasn’t going to turn around, drive 3 minutes back the way I’d just came, then drive another 25 minutes out of my way, to ‘avoid a smell,’ especially when I’m paying for the gas!”
So OP drove on, and experienced the consequences.
“So I drove on, expecting to prove that they were overreacting. It seems that wasn’t the case.”
“We passed the prison, and then as we drove through the 1-mile stretch that made up the chicken farm or whatever it was, they were all violently retching, gagging, and crying.”
“I tried to speed up, but it didn’t seem to make it much better. My sister’s friend opened the window and leaned out (I guess cause she thought she might throw up) as we were passing the hog farm.”
“And I guess opening the window let more smell in, and both she and my sister ended up throwing up.”
“After we got out of that stretch of road, they were all very mad at me and we didn’t talk much for the rest of the trip, after I pulled over at a gas station to let them clean up.”
Having no idea how smell actually affects people, OP had no concept of how much of a jerk they may have been.
“AITA? Maybe I’m underestimating how smells affect people, but I’ve also never seen smells affect people like that and I wonder if their reactions are even typical or if they have an extreme aversion to that particular smell?”
“Plus, with it being my car, should I be obligated to put more miles and gas into the car to just avoid an odor?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agreed that OP should have listened to his passengers.
“YTA. They warned you that the smell was horrible, you dismissed them as exaggerating. Now you find out they weren’t exaggerating. On their way to a wedding, no less.”
“It was nice of you to agree to drive them to a wedding. You should have listened when they told you about the stench, which they will probably bring to the wedding with them, with the residue on their clothing.”
“I get that you have no sense of smell, but you were adequately clued in by their dire warnings and the fact that the road you used is not travelled this time of year. Yes, factory farms really are that horrible.”
“You owe them an apology.”~Comfortable_Hotel684
“Plus usually the farms throw the dead animals outside until they’re collected.”
“So in the summer the smell will be a mix of massive amounts of horrific-smelling pig poop and warm, rotting flesh. It tends to cause a very visceral reaction.”
“(YTA, OP. If you have no sense of smell, how the heck would you know if a smell is bearable or not.)”~Aware-Definition42
“Hog farms are some of the worst-smelling things out there. The bigger they are, the worse they smell. The hotter it is, the worse they smell. These were huge and it was summer.”
“When we domesticated pigs, we ended up accidentally breeding in low efficiency at absorbing phosphorus from their food.”
“Phosphorus is the 5th or 6th most common element in a living organism. Pigs need a high-phosphorus diet and produce high-phosphorus waste.”
“Untreated hog waste is so high-phosphorus that it can kill crops, and when (not if) it leaks into the water table, it causes algae blooms and fish kills.”
“So the waste is kept in ‘hog lagoons’ to be broken down by bacteria until it’s safe to use.”
“In other words, large-scale hog farms have multiple lakes of decomposing liquid pig sh*t. Imagine driving past several huge hog farms when it’s hot outside.”~NorbearWrangler
“YTA. they told you it was going to be a problem, then you ignored them, there was a problem. And now you’re shocked Pikachu about it?? Seriously?”
“How was having people puking in your car less inconvenient than just taking the detour?? If you don’t wanna drive then don’t but don’t act like the detour is putting significantly more mileage on your car than the trip as a whole.”
“If you’re worried about the mileage don’t even agree to drive in the first place.”~arboreallion
Sensitivity to smell is all too real and all too horrible.
“YTA OP. I also have anosmia, I can understand where you are coming from. My younger sisters and bros though, all have very sensitive noses.”
“They get nausea from smells super easily. I’m often their chauffeur as well when they come to town, I get the whole driving thing.”
“You should have listened to your passengers. Why do a good deed if you were going to be so cruel about it? Why didn’t you believe them? Also why didn’t you turn around when they begged you to?”
“A little bit of mileage on your car vs people puking in your car, which is the preferred option here? Just because something doesn’t effect you doesn’t mean it won’t effect others.”~Not-A-SoggyBagel
“My middle kiddo has this condition as well as the inability to taste, while my oldest has the most sensitive nose ever.”
“When we drive through skunk stench, the oldest is gagging and the middle can’t smell a thing.”
“I have also smelled those back road chicken plants…. seriously it is an awful smell. You could have and should have turned around and gone the ‘long way.'”
“If they warned you, you should have listened since you have a condition that prevents you from knowing the power of the smell. YTA.”~tryingeveryday5
“YTA. If you can’t smell what made you think you are in a better position to judge how bad these farms smell were???”
“They all told you that the smell would be too horrible to drive through and you thought that you, someone who has almost no experience with smell, knew better….. yeah you’re definitely the AH.”
“Also please tell me the gas station bathroom wasn’t the only place they were able to clean up in before the wedding and that they had access to a shower!”
“ETA. You said there were three massive factory farms, bigger factory pig farms have literal lakes of feces on their properties. There’s a reason this stretch of the road is empty save for a prison.”~silly_sarahSG1
“OP not being able to smell is key. Telling someone a situation that you yourself literally cannot experience is no big deal is a total ah move.”
“It’s equivalent to a man telling a woman that childbirth is painless. You can’t know. You need to listen to those who do.”
“Also, what’s with this obsession over gas money? If you care that much, don’t offer people rides.”
“It’s possible that some folks just don’t have the temperament to drive other people around. Figure out if you’re one of them and know your limits. OP, YTA.”~mouse_attack
And it seems like OP should have learned their lesson once they saw their entire car have awful physical reactions.
“YTA, dude. I know it’s hard to describe how bad a smell is to someone who doesn’t experience smell, but these are, according to you, three massive factory farms.”
“That’s massive numbers of livestock all slammed together, plus the slaughterhouse aspect. So that’s a combination of blood, sh*t, rot, and regular old ‘animal smell.'”
“Clearly it was bad enough to make two people throw up.”
“In my city, there are areas of town that used to have slaughterhouses in them.”
“Although the slaughterhouses themselves are long gone, it’s in the ground, and driving by those areas in the summertime is an immediate ‘roll the windows up and hold your breath til we’re past it.””
“I can’t imagine how terrible your 3 massive still-in-operation factory farms must have smelled.”~OGW_NostalgiaReviews
“YTA just because its something that doesn’t bother you that is no excuse to act like anyone it does bother is overreacting.”
“Since you have difficulty with the concept of smell, imagine a paraplegic man stabbing you in the leg, then giving out to you because leg-stabs don’t hurt him at all so you must be exaggerating.”~Dookwithanegg
“Soft YTA. I think the fact that two people ended up throwing up shows you that you don’t understand how smell can affect people.”
“Coupled with the fact that its a route that’s always clear and has no traffic shows that other people are bothered by the smell enough to take a longer route.”
“I live about 15-20 miles from one farm here that’s not even a particularly big farm, certain days in the summer when the wind is in the right direction the smell is nearly unbearable so we keep the windows closed and tend not to be outside if we can help it.”
“So yeah, driving down a road that directly passes 3 ‘massive factory farms’ I can easily see that kind of smell making someone throw up.”
“Honestly, I’d apologise to them explain that you don’t have a sense of smell and if you don’t wanna take a longer trip then don’t offer to drive people that way anymore.”~WeeMan0701
“YTA!! Yes, the smell can be ‘that bad’ and some people have the exact opposite problem of you where they are more sensitive to smells.”
“I happen to be one of these people and would be SO MAD if you went this way just because YOU PERSONALLY are not able to smell.”
“Strong smells like that would definitely make me retch, gag, and throw up until I was out of range of said smell.”
“I doubt this is something they could/would fake if it wasn’t absolutely nasty, and I’m assuming it was the summer time which does make poop/other gross smells like that exponentially worse.”~PinkHairRocks
OP has seen firsthand the consequences of their actions, and yet, the doubt remained until the end.
Make no mistake OP, smells can definitely affect people. Just like bright lights or loud noises can give people headaches, smells can affect so many different groups of nerves and really take a toll on people.
Consider yourself lucky you escaped.