a resume in smell

29 May, 2011


Every work place has its own smell, an indelible boundary of scent. My own employment history could be easily mapped in aromas, painted in a smell-scape.

I could smell the food coop in my hair when I left- all spicy and musky and sweet, like incense and baked bread and Dr. Bronners and curry. The propane store smells like safety, a sweetly putrid ache of sulfur and metal. Then there was Faner Hall, whose dusty stairway smells uniquely of rubber and nerves on the way up and of cigarettes and freedom on the way down… Now my job smells like fish emulsion and rich black soil, a tangy ripe smell that catches in the back of the throat and gets stronger the farther into the back I go…
Its odd how familiar these smells are, how intimate and personal yet also so public and communal.

What does your workplace smell like? Do you like it, hate it, or wish it wouldn’t follow you home?


3 Responses to “a resume in smell”

  1. kazari Says:

    working in an office full of public servants and canned air, the most notable thing is the absence of smell.
    and then somebody comes in smelling of woodbines, or carrying a wet umbrella. sometimes it’s hot chips and gravy. or the photocopier gets put through it’s paces and there’s that weird ozone tang.
    every day when i leave, the smell of wed mud and foliage and river hits me in the nose.

  2. smoothpebble Says:

    that reminds of the wet loamy smell when I worked at the greenhouse. an older woman used to have a smell about her like overripe fruit, and she sat across from transplanting seedlings. I think she had diabetes. now my job smells like gas from the old gas oven and stale religion…

  3. smoothpebble Says:

    love your photo!

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