Emily had been working at the small office for a few months now, and she had grown accustomed to her co-workers’ quirks and habits. However, there was one co-worker, a 55-year-old man, who wore the same sweater every day and left it in the office overnight, causing it to develop a distinct smell that became unbearable.
She Tried to be Gentle
At first, Emily tried to make innocuous comments to him about the smell, hoping that he would catch on and do something about it. She would say things like, “Do you smell something musty?” or “Is it just me, or is there a weird smell in here?” However, her co-worker didn’t seem to pick up on her hints, and the smell only got worse over time.
She Addressed the Sweater in the Room
Finally, last week, Emily decided to confront her co-worker about the issue. She said to him, “Hey, that sweater is starting to give off a stench. Could you take it home and wash it?” Her co-worker replied, “Nah, that’s not my sweater,” and walked away, effectively ending the conversation.
Straight in the Garbage
After her co-worker left for the night, Emily went to his desk and smelled the sweater for herself. The smell was so putrid up close that she couldn’t believe how her co-worker had been living with it. She knew she couldn’t continue to work in these conditions, so she took the sweater on her way out and threw it in a dumpster out back.
Technically Not a Lie…
The next day, her co-worker was looking around for his sweater and asking everyone if they had seen it. Emily just shrugged and said, “Nah, haven’t seen it today,” which was technically not a lie. She felt bad for lying, but she couldn’t bear to tell him the truth.
No HR, Many Problems
Emily knew that her office had no HR and that their boss was not effective at dealing with issues, so she felt like this was her only option. However, she couldn’t shake the guilt she felt for what she had done.
Taking Further Measures
The situation took a turn for the worse when her co-worker brought up the issue in a Monday morning meeting. He said that he felt disrespected and that multiple people had complained to him about the smell, but he hadn’t been able to narrow down his suspects, so he needed a full confession or would be taking further measures.
She Didn’t Say a Word
Emily had planned to pull her co-worker aside at lunch to tell him what had happened and explain why she felt it was necessary. However, when her co-worker brought up the issue in the meeting, Emily felt uneasy and unsure of what to do. She thought about confessing, but her co-worker’s eyes had a crazy look, making her feel unsafe, so she kept her mouth shut.
He Got the Cops Involved?!
Her boss did nothing until her co-worker brought in his cousin, who claimed to be a police officer, to interrogate people individually all day. Emily’s boss finally stepped in and said that wasn’t happening, bringing her co-worker into his office. Emily didn’t know what happened in there, but it got loud toward the end, and she didn’t see her co-worker for the rest of the afternoon.
The next day, Emily found out that her co-worker had been fired. While she was relieved that the smell was gone, she had mixed feelings about the outcome. She knew that she had taken matters into her own hands, and it had resulted in her co-worker losing his job.
Emily couldn’t help but wonder if there had been other options available to her. She had received suggestions like spraying the sweater with air freshener, or even taking the sweater home and washing it for her co-worker. However, she knew that she had felt trapped and had acted out of desperation.
She Felt Guilty
Emily felt guilty about lying to her co-worker and taking matters into her own hands. She knew that she had made a mistake, but she also knew that she couldn’t continue to work in those conditions. She hoped that she had learned from her mistake and would handle things differently in the future.
The Internet Responded
This commenter wrote, “Clearly the guy wasn’t open to having an actual conversation with OP about his nasty sweater. he’s the one who needs to get a backbone and not dodge questions about his lack of hygiene. She is not the jerk.”
More Internet Comments
Another person commented, “It is a difficult conversation to have when you are trying to discuss another person’s hygiene. Feelings can easily be hurt, it can turn into a big argument, or it can destroy your ability to work with a co-worker. OP did try to have a discussion about it directly to the sweater owner. That is much more than is required at a workplace. I go with not the jerk, because OP made an attempt to take care of the issue prior to throwing it away.”
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