Personal Service

I like to buy Kish perfume for Christmas.  It’s a good idea, but there is one problem:  I don’t know bupkis about perfume, or how to pick it out.  So, what to do?

There is only one answer — Nordstrom.

img_3266When I went shopping for Kish’s presents before Christmas, I went to Nordstrom because I knew that I would get plenty of desperately needed help from the friendly employees walking the floor of the perfume department.  And sure enough, when I showed up in the bustling department one afternoon, wandering aimlessly with scribbled notes in hand and a hapless, sheepish, and somewhat lost expression on my face, a nice young woman approached and asked me if she could help.  When I explained what I was looking for, she thought for a moment, then took me over to another part of the department, where she summarized my concepts for an older woman who apparently got her Ph.D in perfume.  A knowledgeable nod, a few careful selections from a shelf full of different perfumes, a few spritzes on a kind of paper stick, a few whiffs by yours truly, and I knew I’d made some good choices.  And they even threw in the gift wrapping, too.

Sure enough, when Christmas came and Kish opened the perfume, she loved it.

I don’t like shopping, and normally I’m one of those people who knows what they want and likes to dart in and get the heck out of the store as quickly as possible, without interacting with anyone.  These days, that’s increasingly easy to do so, because many stores have cut back on the number of floor employees.  Nordstrom isn’t one of them — fortunately for me.  Sometimes you want a little personal service, provided by pleasant people who aren’t high pressure and who act like they just want to help.

So thanks, Nordstrom, and thanks especially to the nice folks in the perfume department at the Easton store who helped a baffled, perfume-challenged husband give his lovely wife a merry Christmas.

Into The Office Fragrance Cloud Of Death

For much of history, human beings were routinely exposed to a riotous collection of disgusting and offensive smells.  Whether it was the reek of long-unwashed bodies, the pungent tang of rotting food, the odor of barnyard creatures, or the scents inevitably produced by the combination of people, food, and water, civilization basically stank.  Strong perfumes were developed largely to allow the wealthy to mask the awful stench of daily existence.

In the modern world, we don’t have that problem.  Thanks to toilets, showers, deodorant soaps, refrigerators — and especially Febreze — we live in a largely odor-free world.  Why, then, do some people at the office wear fragrances so powerful you’d think they lived in Elizabethan times and had to walk through streets littered with offal and the debris thrown out by the tanner?  Those are the people who are given wide berth and seem to walk the halls in a mobile no-contact zone.

I admit that I don’t exactly have a finely honed sense of smell.  I’m sure I don’t fully savor the delicate fragrance of well-cooked food or the bouquet in a glass of fine red wine.  So when I encounter scents so powerful that even my suboptimal nostrils feel scalded and the gag reflex starts to kick in, it’s fair to say that an unfortunate line has been crossed.

Because I don’t have the scent detection abilities of a basset hound, I hesitate to comment on the odors that people have selected as their signature fragrances — yet I feel I must.  One individual seems to bathe in a vat of some kind of roadkill stew that is just beginning to turn.  Another apparently rolls in kitchen spices as part of the morning routine.  And, by the way, even the most nuanced floral scents smell like a cheap Glade knock-off when liberally applied from head to toe.

So please, if you must wear a fragrance, go easy when your index finger is on the nozzle of the perfume vial or the Old Spice bottle.  Your co-workers, and their overwhelmed noses, will appreciate it.