Dear Ms. Demeanor,
We have a respectable, small gym in our building. It is very convenient for me to work out there in the mornings before I go to work. It is, apparently, also very convenient for the stinkiest man alive to work out there at the same time.
He has been my neighbor for years but this workout kick of his is fairly new. I can barely tolerate being in the elevator with him, and his stench in the gym is just beyond what I can take. What can I do?
Holding my breath,
Woe to the visitor to our fair city who spies a subway car with only one occupant at rush hour and thinks he has hit the jackpot. Similarly, the various corners of your vertical village (not to mention your average taxi ride) can be an assault on the olfactory senses.
Bear in mind that body odor is not necessarily reflective of bad hygiene and is strongly influenced by diet and overall health. Your neighbor may have a medical condition that is causing the offensive smell and, as such, this issue must be dealt with very delicately.
I do not advise directly confronting your neighbor. If he does not care about hygiene, your confrontation will only anger him, and if he does but there is another reason for the problem, you will only embarrass him.
Instead, start by checking with the super to ensure that the ventilation ducts are clear and in proper working order. If the ventilation system is functioning appropriately, you might suggest an air purifier or liquid odor eliminator (such as Febreeze) to the coop board or house committee, as well as house rules about proper cleaning of gym equipment and keeping the gym clear of dirty laundry, gym shoes not in use, etc. Beyond that, I think you have little recourse.
For your own comfort if the aforementioned measures do not work, try Vicks under the nose (it seems to work on all the crime shows I watch), changing your workout schedule, or joining an outside gym.
Smell ya later,
Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to [email protected] and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.