The articles I include in this personal Blog will include a varied range of subjects that interest me. They will predominantly relate to the United Kingdom (my homeland), Spain and Europe. Any opinions I express will probably not be too contentious, however they are mine and not that of any organisation or group of which I am a member.
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Monday, 23 December 2013
Last Friday morning
I was in the checkout queue, in a major supermarket, when I nearly
It wasn't because I
had over exerted myself loading my purchases from the
shopping-trolley to the conveyor belt. It wasn't because of an
anxiety attack thinking about the total cost of the items.
The cause of my
possible transition to a comatose state was – and there is no
polite way of explaining my dilemma – the unbearable stench from
the person, alongside me, in the queue running parallel with the one
I was in.
The obnoxious smog
of fumes; stale nicotine from clothing and yellowed skin; fermenting
waste alcohol spilt on clothes and on exhaled breath; and bacterial
body odour; was emanating from the offending obese shopper. The cloud
was enveloping, smothering me. I was beginning to appreciate what it
would have been like in a gas attack whilst in the trenches.
I was having
difficulty breathing. My stomach was considering returning my
breakfast to me. My legs were giving way, I held onto the counter.
Claustrophobia began to control me. I looked to my wife, who was the
other end of our trundler, for help. But, all she could offer was a
skyward glance with raised eyebrows, a wrinkled forehead, and the
pinching of her nostril as a physical suggestion of action I could
There was no
possible escape route. I was trapped between the emptied cart of the
customer ahead of me, and my half-emptied one waiting for me to put
the final items on the slowly-moving rubber belt. It wasn't possible
to reverse away from the checkout, and abandon the shopping, to fend
for itself, as other shoppers, and their accompanying wire-mesh
wheelbarrows, had joined the one-way exit system. The front wheels of
the trolley behind Natalie were already snapping at her heals. Any
escape route between the two adjacent queues was blocked by the
tangled traffic jam of bodies and carts.
The monster from the
cesspit didn't have too much shopping ahead of it and luckily for me
started to move towards the cash register. The cashier must have
detected the pungency of the danger heading towards her. Perhaps she
had experienced it before. She moved her seat back as far away from
the check-out scanner as possible and leant back to give added safety
Although there was a
degree of forward movement in my queue I didn't move. My lungs
detected an increase in the level of oxygen available, as the
abhorrent fog followed it's source, and allowed me to take a
near-normal breath. My legs regained their stability. My breakfast
remained where it was. I was able to complete the emptying of my
trolley. I waited for the dark mass to move away with its packed and
paid-for shopping before following my groceries to our bagging area.
I took the
opportunity to glance towards the main exit aisle and I'm sure I
could see shoppers moving to the left and right to offer a clear
central path to allow the moving pollutant haze and owner to depart
How can any human
being be oblivious to the fact that they are dispensing a repellent
smell? Or are they aware but don't care?
Have you experienced
a similar incident? What did you do: did you say anything to the
person? Is there a tactful way of telling someone they are giving off
an obnoxious odour?