The woman on the bus
There’s a woman on the bus who smells of piss. I don’t mean that as in that manky wee smell that follows certain elderly people around, the ones you politely smile at and feel a little bit sorry for, while secretly hoping you don’t smell like that once you get to that age yourself. This lady is old yes, but the odour that pours off this particular individual has a strength to it I have never before encountered. It is concentrated urine, condensed down to its purest, vilest state, and then left outside in the sun to mature for a week.
It’s the kind of stench that knows no limitations of the laws of physics; down wind, up wind, it makes no difference: it hits you from afar like some sort of olfactory homing missile, announcing her presence before I’ve even turned into the bus station. I don’t need to look up: I can gauge her distance by the intensity of the smell and how watery my eyes are.
I have, as a result of this pungent person, altered my public transport seating habits so that the front two-thirds of any bus is off limits. I learnt this the hard way one morning when the woman took the seat directly in front of me so as the whole journey was spent trying not to gag too obviously.
Yet as much as I am in awe at the epicness of her smell, the most surprising thing is that NO-ONE ELSE SEEMS TO BE BOTHERED. Not even a little bit. Now I’m hardly going to tell this woman about how bad her pong is. Sure I might idly consider telling her straight up, sorry to say it love but you smell disgusting. If I were you I’d check my catheter for leaks, and seriously how can you not notice? But I never would. I’d never dream of it. If nothing else, she probably, genuinely doesn’t know. She’s accustomed to it and the knowledge of the effect she has would likely kill her with the embarrassment. Besides, she’s probably a nice old lady. Just one who smells really badly of piss. No, she’ll never hear it from me. But what puzzles me is how nobody else so much as bats an eyelid around her. They’ll sit by her, chat and laugh with her, and not once have I seen someone so much as turn away to try and breathe discreetly.
Are these people really so adept at hiding it? Are they that good at suffering so as to not cause offense? How is it that I can’t be nearby without worrying what I’ve just ingested? Could it be that they really are not bothered by it, and if so what does that say about me, my sense of smell and my own willpower?