Buyer Beware

On her way to an after school teachers’ meeting, Meg stopped me in the hall to set a time to discuss her health concerns for a student.  We talked only a few minutes, but I was immediately aware of the strong odor of garlic coming from her breath. I thought perhaps she had enjoyed a nice Italian meal recently.

The next day Meg arrived in my office at the arranged time. As soon as she appeared in the doorway I again noticed the smell of garlic.  We discussed her concerns about the student and made a decision for me to call his parent. The odor in my office lingered, even after she left the room. I thought perhaps she had enjoyed the left-overs!

The following day I made the call to the parent, decided on followup, and went to share the plan with Meg. A substitute teacher was there, so I decided to return the next morning before school.

On my way through the classroom door the next morning,  I was greeted once more by an even stronger smell of garlic as I approached Meg’s desk. As we talked, I knew I just HAD to let her know about this. This was unusual for Meg.

Well . . . That afternoon I wrote a brief note to Meg.  Yes, I truly was “chicken” about the whole thing. And, putting a bottle of SCOPE in a locker doesn’t work for a teacher!  In my note I asked whether she might be having some digestive problems.  I told her that as a nurse I had been trained to notice breath odors and I was detecting a “slight odor.” (Oh sure! What an understatement!) I delivered the note to her before her class the next day.

Meg walked into my office that afternoon laughing heartily as she thanked me for the note.  “Oh, I am SO glad you said something.  I have to confess to the nurse. You see, I have been taking several garlic tablets each day for a week or so, as I read they could help prevent colds. I thought I would get a good start on the winter season coming up. It says on the bottle that the brand does NOT cause garlic breath—but I guess it does.”  I confirmed, as diplomatically as possible, that it definitely did.

Then she proceeded to tell me the worst of the situation. The day before she had traveled in a small car to and from Des Moines—with three colleagues. She suddenly realized what an ambience she had provided for them— and for others at the meeting. I tried to comfort her by saying, “well, it really is not THAT bad.” 

Nurses always try to soften the bad news, you know.

Published by Susan Flemr

Retired former nurse and former Lutheran pastor. Happily living with her husband of 53 years in Des Moines Iowa. Two married sons and their beautiful families in Nichols, IA and Colorado Springs, CO.

5 thoughts on “Buyer Beware

  1. Yes, I know how some nurses soften the “bad news”……”This will only hurt a little bit” as that 10 inch hypodermic needle plunges into your arm!🤣🤣🤣just kidding, Sue! Love your stories.


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