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Ask Chicagoist: Fishy Lunch at Work

By Sarah in Miscellaneous on Nov 26, 2005 8:42PM

Dear Chicagoist,
Our co-worker has been eating sardines and oysters on salad as part of some low-carb diet and now there's this rotten fish stench that extends far beyond her corner. We think we've identified her padded lunch carry-all thing as the source of the ongoing problem (while she was outside on a break). What do we do when she's so used to it that she responds indignantly to any mention of an odor: "I took a shower!" Please, you've got to help us!
Sincerely, Febreeze Ain't Workin'

Dear Readers,
Did you know that 3 ounces of oyster-ness have 57% of one’s daily recommended intake of iron? And a whoppin’ 12 grams of protein?? Neither did we. Good gracious, maybe we should learn to like that slimy goo. We did guess, however, that high cholesterol might be an issue, and by-gum, we were right! Phew. This colleague of yours is clearly receiving dubious dieting advice. (Not that dieting is our arena; we are currently snacking on Raisinets, for pete’s sake!)

Fish Lady must be handled with Extreme and Absolute Sensitivity. Here is a person who is already defensive (“I took a shower!”) and the only thing worse than knowing that all of one’s co-workers are talking about you --- is knowing that you are the source of a funny smell. Here’s our recommendation. Who has the best rapport with Fish Lady? That person, and ONLY that person, should 1) take Fish Lady aside (preferably out of the building, but at least out of spying range of The Rest Of The Office); 2) be very supportive of the diet; and 3) tell her that she looks FANTASTIC. Then:

"You know, something strange happened the other day. I was walking past your cube and I smelled your oyster salad, and I was coming over to say hi to you, but you weren’t there. It was so weird I could smell your salad without you. So, I know its nosy, but I sniffed around, and voila! It turned out that the smell was coming from your lunch bag. Maybe something dripped in there; it totally happens with my urine therapy sometimes. Anyway, I was at Walgreen’s last night and those lunch-bag things were on sale, so I picked one up for you…I hope you like red.”

This will ONLYwork if one of you is quite friendly with Fish Lady. If she is an Office Outsider then the best approach is to get back to work (breathing through your mouths, of course!) until the fad makes its way to Diet Heaven. It is a terrible thing to humiliate someone who is trying to feel better about herself.

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