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14 Times When Eyecare Businesses Were Overwhelmed by Terrible Odors

Dead kangaroo rat, anyone?

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HAS A SEWER pipe ever burst just as your patient eased into the chin rest? Did a small animal ever choose your drywall as its final resting place in mid-summer? Maybe you have a loyal, weed-loving customer who leaves your optical smelling like a Dead show every time she visits. Or perhaps your zealous lab tech has grown to love the smell of a high-index lens being edged in the morning. We asked our Brain Squad survey team members to tell us about those foul odors that come out of nowhere, and how they handled their patients’ discomfort. And boy did they rub our noses in it…

  • It was obviously something dead. At the time we were in a space with no rear entrance so we couldn’t even get a cross-breeze. Customers laughed and said it was a mouse, which we thought of course it probably was. We searched for the smell for days; then I had to fly out of town. Finally on the fifth day my employee sent me a photo of a Kangaroo rat (which we don’t have in Minnesota) dead under one of the file cabinets. Fun times. — Nikki G., Oakdale, MN
  • The smell of permed hair due to the cutting of high-index lenses. Just have to laugh it off and run around spraying the office to cover up the smell. — Danielle D., Detroit, MI
  • We are in a strip mall setting that’s shared with a couple restaurants. One of which is a BBQ joint that tried to combine garlic bread and pulled pork for some sort of pulled pork sandwich. They ended up burning the majority of the garlic bread and left anybody who shares a wall with them smelling like burnt garlic. Seems like it still creeps back occasionally. — Travis L., Logan, UT
  • Skunks! Once had a patient who was sprayed by a skunk, and despite her best efforts, brought its remnants to the exam room. Shortly thereafter, a skunk got trapped in the lobby of the bank next door. We thought our patient had returned overnight!! Luckily in both cases we placed candles out of sight of patients and we were able to get rid of the odors, both times. — Dennis I., Monroe, CT
  • There are apartments above our storefront. One of the tenants likes to indulge in smoking pot. We had to post a letter on their mailboxes asking them to please wait until after business hours since it comes in the office through the vent in the exam room. Fortunately we haven’t had anyone complain; instead they just wanted to know why they didn’t receive an invite to the party. — Sherry B., Aston, PA
  • Ah, the sweet smell of cutting 1.67 lenses or photochromic lenses. 1.67 lenses I find smell like garlic, and photochromic lenses end up smelling like roasted parsnip. Cutting high index lenses and forgetting to turn on the fan on a hot California sunny day is a great way to empty the office in a hurry. — David G., Newport Beach, CA
  • Luckily the smell was mostly contained in the back part of the building. First day I smelled it and thought the plumbing was backing up. I have a sensitive nose—the staff didn’t really notice. I couldn’t find the source. Second day it was definitely noticeable but once again I couldn’t find the source. I searched for well over an hour, then we found it: a dead raccoon in the ceiling. I was lucky the smell did not really make it upfront. — Bret H., Denver, CO
  • I had an elderly man who is now in a wheelchair poop his pants. He came out to the optical for new glasses and it was everything in me to not gag. We used an air freshener and opened the door up to air it out some. Thankfully the next patient was already roomed before he came out and no one was in the waiting room. — Lindsey P., Manhattan, KS
  • Our old office was in the basement of a medical building and one day a severe sewer problem developed. A main city sewage pipe burst flooding the office with all of its lovely contents. Luckily, if you want to call it luck, it didn’t occur in any of the patient care areas, but rather in the employee lunchroom. There were very mild odor concerns for patients that could easily be fixed with some plug-ins. The staff, however, suddenly had a whole new meaning for a “crappy lunch.” — Christine H., Attleboro, MA
  • It’s not uncommon that a patient has smoked dope prior to an eye exam. The smell lingers in the office after the patient leaves. If we’re having one of those days , we might let it linger because we all need the contact high to finish the day. — Texas S., Citrus Heights, CA
  • Cat urine. We have a couple that must live with 4,000 cats and never clean the litter. We can smell them before they enter the building, and the foul odor lingers for hours, no mater what we spray or burn. They are very kind people, but wow they smell. — Nichole M., Oskaloosa, LA
  • I had one very good employee with a bad odor problem. The rest of the staff complained to me and I had to speak to multiple HR people before I finally had the nerve to approach her about it. When the opportunity finally presented itself the conversation wasn’t that difficult. I offered to pay any medical visits if it came to that and after clearing the air things worked out. — Marc U., Pine Beach, NJ
  • It was a patient, and her husband. The OD asked that only one of them was in the room as she did the exam, left the door open and we opened all the windows after they left. It wasn’t just your typical B.O. This stuff was hazardous! — Tiffany F., Jenison, MI
  • High-index lens edging—tell the customer that is the smell of technology. — Harry R., Millburn, NJ

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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