The Office Microwave Smell Zone

Yesterday I was walking down the office hall at about 11:30 when I encountered a sphere of odor so pungent it had an almost physical impact.  It had the kind of potency that made me think “Whoa!” and quicken my step to get away as quickly as possible.

Yes, I was passing the office microwave.  There’s a reason why, on virtually every floor in our firm, the office closest to the microwave is vacant.  Unless you’ve experienced a tragic childhood accident that cost you your sense of smell, you’re going to get away from the zone of noxiousness at the earliest possible opportunity.

IMG_0130In our office, around the lunch hour, the microwave area is a kind of no-go zone.  During the morning, the machine might be used for more innocent activities, like coffee warming or preparing a bowl of instant oatmeal.  But at lunchtime, the appalling aromas emerge.  Maybe it’s that kind of preservative-laden putrescence that inevitably accompanies bad takeout Chinese food or a one of those ready-made diet meals.  Perhaps it’s that overcooked to the edge of burnt aroma that you get from some home-cooked leftovers. Or you might be treated to the thin, almost tinny taint of reheated tuna fish casserole that paints a firm mental image of a congealed mass of overdone noodles so hard you could break a tooth if you took a bite.

And then there’s reheated fish, which is easily the worst of all.  It’s quite possible that minor Balkan wars have been started over people who are on some new diet and insist on heating up fish in the microwave so they can stick to a strict regimen.  Microwaved fish is almost certainly the biggest cause of hysterical, pathetically pleading, exclamation pointed, passive-aggressive signage in the office.  (“Will whoever is using the microwave to reheat fish please have mercy on us and stop!!!”)  And, when someone transgresses and uses the microwave for fishy purposes, the smell seemingly never fully vanishes.  It lingers, like the guest who wouldn’t leave, and ultimately sinks down into the carpeting so that it can always stay with us.

In fact, conducting interrogations in the same room where people are microwaving fish could be a very effective method to break the will of terrorism suspects, but that tactic probably would violate multiple provisions of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sixty Years Without A Bath

Meet Amoo Hadji. He’s an 80-year-old Iranian guy who lives in a stone hut, sleeps in a depression in the ground, and hasn’t had a bath in 60 years. That’s right — he hasn’t bathed since the Eisenhower Administration.

Frankly, Amoo’s lack of personal hygiene isn’t the only thing you might find objectionable in his lifestyle. He eats dead animals and smokes animal dung in his pipe. And, because he doesn’t bathe, we can assume he’s not hauling out the Pepsodent to get sparkling fresh breath after he chows down some rotting animal flesh and chases it with a relaxing camel turd after-dinner smoke.

The story linked above, which includes photos of Amoo and his Stone Age lifestyle, leaves some significant questions unanswered. After following basic social norms for 20 years, why did Amoo decide to skip the benefits of soap and water for the next six decades? Did his Mom just give up on hectoring him to wash off a few days’ filth? Is there any way to describe what he smells like? A professional wrestler? A camel? A goat? Milk that has been left in an abandoned refrigerator in the blazing sunshine for several days?

And what does Amoo Hadji do with his time, other than hunting for animal carcasses and dung? Is he a blogger? Does he have a Facebook page? Is he married?