Wednesday’s Globe and Mail ran an article about a Calgary woman who complained of the way she was treated on Calgary transit buses for wearing too much perfume. Natalie Kuhn says she was singled out three times in the same week for her perfume use. A bus driver warned her during the first incident that he would not allow her on his bus if her perfume was bothersome again. Later that week, he did not allow her on the bus.
Now I don’t know much about the specific scent of Very Irresistible, the perfume in question, so I cannot judge its strength, but I find it hard not to side with the bus driver. If the smell of the perfume makes it difficult for him to concentrate on driving, that puts everyone on the bus at risk. As the article stated, there is no policy in Calgary on wearing too much perfume on public transit. This makes me wonder what would be done for a driver who developed an allergy to a particular scent.
In the article, Kuhn complained about the bus driver stopping to open all the windows and said that asking her to sit next to the window made her feel like a “modern-day Rosa Parks”. I find this to comparison to be inappropriate, even if she is a woman of colour.
Everyone is entitled to wear the perfume of their choice, but many people forget about the small percentage of people for whom perfume could be troublesome. It is simply disrespectful towards the transit workers and other commuters to wear excessive amounts of perfume. You are invading their public space with your smell.
There are many offices and schools that are now perfume-free zones — the high school I attended in Montreal was one of them as a teacher had an allergy. Nowadays, with the way the public has become so careful about peanut allergies and gluten allergies and meeting the needs of people with vegetarian and vegan diets, why aren’t we more careful about the amount of cologne and perfume we wear?
I take GO transit on a daily basis and although it is normal for a fragrance to be stronger in the morning as you’ve just put it on, there are usually a couple people on the train that smell as though they’ve bathed in the stuff.
Now, I’m not suggesting we make public transit fragrance-free, but I think some careful consideration of the people sharing the small space with you isn’t too much to ask.
Photo from The Globe and Mail.