The Power of Smell

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Note: See my posts on smell, parts one, two and three.

Laird Smith

Apr 9, 2018, 8:48 PM

Lately we all have had enough of tragedy. The South Okanagan with its loss of Greg Norton and hockey with its loss of fifteen players and associates of the Humboldt Broncos.

I’m going to veer off into some self deprecating humor. As many of you know, I was born with a defect, a hormone deficiency which wasn’t discovered until I was in my early thirties. My medication treatment started with pills for four years, which gradually ceased their effectiveness, then shots for thirteen years, which created a lot of scar tissue in the injection site, then finally a cream to apply to my skin.

The cream was prescribed because it didn’t have to go through my liver like the shot serum had to. The cream was made up in the lab at the pharmacy. The pharmacist informed me that the skin didn’t absorb the cream easily so he would put a certain chemical in it for better absorbency. He went on to tell me that the chemical would cause my body to smell like garlic as the drug was being absorbed. I nodded in understanding and forgot about the matter.

Three years later I found myself working in an oil field truckers’ camp in Rainbow Lake, Alberta. My position was called Night Man, which meant that I worked from 6 pm to 6 am, and then slept all day. I kept an eye on the camp while the workers slept. I washed towels for the Camp Attendant, and I cleaned up the kitchen from the supper hour. I did that shift for fourteen days straight then went home for a week.

The medical plan of the trucking company had great coverage for my prescriptions. I switched my drug store manufactured cream to a commercially manufactured gel. The cream came in a big, clumsy, plastic jar while the gel came in individual sachets which were easier to administer.

I started the gel the day after finishing the cream. I walked into the kitchen at 4 pm to say hi to Shirley the cook. She looked at me and said, “You smell differently!” I thought for a moment, and said, “I’ve changed medications!” She said, “Oh, I thought you never bathed!” I replied, “Why didn’t you say something?” Her response, “I didn’t know how to word it.” She put up with that misunderstanding for three months, what a trooper!
I got an “aha” moment when I realized that it was the garlic smell from the cream medication that led her to assume I wasn’t bathing.

That reminds me of another time, many years ago, when I was a cook’s helper in Houston BC at a sawmill camp run by Northwood Pulp and Timber. One morning while I was preparing for lunch, the Millwright, who had worked all night, came in for his meal. I was cutting garlic close to the serving line when he asked me what I was doing. I told him and he asked for a garlic clove. Just for a joke I gave him the whole garlic corn and he took it. By the time I went back to get the corn from him he had eaten the whole thing! I was not amused but I took it in stride and went back to work.

When I got off shift at 5 pm and went into the bunkhouse, it absolutely reeked! Even my room stunk and I had the door closed and locked. The smell lingered for a week! Every pore in the Millwright exuded garlic stink, nauseateing us all. After three days the garlic had gone through the man but it took another four days to get the garlic air out the bunkhouse.

I’ve tried to avoid the overuse of garlic in my diet, but several times have failed to notice how much I’ve consumed. The smell always persisted much longer than I’d realized.
I think you would have to be nose blind to be a dentist or a doctor. I’m glad I’ve not been either considering the stink I’ve made others put up with.

Laird Smith

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