Q. Many of us car-poolers are captive audiences -- seating ducks for all kinds of offensive behavior.
I am in a riding pool with six other women, each of whom wears a different fragrance -- the combination of which is so malodorous that I sometimes feel I am going to gag during the 40-minute ride to work. Neither an open window nor air conditioning eliminates the odor.
Using such tactics as "My, what unusual scents I smell," "What powerful odors do I smell?" and "My goodness, it smells as if I am in a perfume factory" has not stopped them from indulging in their morning toilet ritual. Help!
A. Your car-poolers are in no state to understand delicate hints. (Miss Manners is awake enough to appreciate "seating ducks." Thank you.)
There is another polite way to handle the problem. A regular car pool is considered a tiny sovereign society that can adopt unanimously approved rules. Ask your fellow car-poolers to refrain from perfuming themselves before the trip, as you are troubled by odors -- but only if you eliminate such words as "gag," "malodorous" and "pollution" from a request that, after all, concerns a luxury these ladies feel enhances their attractiveness.
The plea for restraint is sweetened by being phrased as an apology: "I'm so sorry, but perfume seems to bother me. Would it trouble any of you to apply it after you get to work? I would really appreciate it." Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.