Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


The part where you try to teach them math is the easy part of the job.

File under: Those Who Can't. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 12:07 pm.

Can anyone think of a tactful way to say, “Listen, I’m happy to help you out whenever you want during my office hours, but for crying out loud, could you please have some consideration and not roll around in cigarette smoke before entering my poorly-ventilated little space here?”

This isn’t a case of “dude smoked a cigarette before coming in here”. This is a case of “dude smoked god knows how many cigarettes, and never rinsed his mouth out or brushed his teeth EVER, and never washed the outfit that he’s wearing.” He was in here for ten minutes, and I’m feeling seriously ill.


  1. Regrettably they are unlikely to get any hint - not even coughing until you chunder.

    With little old ladies who marinate (cf accent) themselves with poisonous perfumes we have found the only option is frank requests to cease and desist.

    With smokers we just keep a stiff upper lip to support our melting noses, and keep a large fan handy.

    The joys of public contact!!

    - littoral zone — 9/27/2004 @ 7:20 am

  2. In the middle of the night (preferably on Sunday), sneak into your building when no one’s around and tape lots of flyers to the walls *everywhere* stating: “Smokers: Before entering any office in this building: Please stand outside in the fresh breeze for 2 hours to let the smoke smell dissipate from your clothes, or else wear freshly laundered (non-smoke smelling) clothes. Also, brush teeth twice daily. The strong smell of smoke makes us math teachers woozy. This is not a joke. Thank you. –Math Department” [Note: j/k]

    - wes — 9/27/2004 @ 12:20 pm

  3. you can suddenly remember that your office doesn’t have the adequate chalkboard space, number of chairs, or whatever and then take the student outside, or into a classroom (if there is one nearby) or some other ventilated space. If none are available, you can set your office hours in some public space — e.g. hold court in a coffee shop. The greater ventilation of these areas should help some.

    Moving to a nearby classroom works for me when a student is… uhh… fragrant either from lack of bathing or from too much perfume. (I get the latter quite often. One time, it was so strong that my clothes were faintly perfumed for hours. I got a comment or two to the effect that I must have had a very nice afternoon tryst.)

    - Sam — 9/27/2004 @ 3:22 pm

  4. You know, Wes, you’re joking, but I think a sign might be just the right thing - paint it as school policy, rather than my policy. (Though I’ll have to work on the wording…)

    Sam - heh, I’d do that if I were in some big urban centre, but my office is at the top of a hill, isolated from the city - which is pretty sparsely populated, more or less devoid of hip coffee shops, and our transit system has, I believe, ten bus lines. Setting up shop anywhere other than my office is asking everyone - myself included - to take an hour and a half out of their day to get there and back. (Actually, many of my students have cars. I’d be screwing myself over more than any of them.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 10/1/2004 @ 4:57 pm

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