Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smell ya later

Some people smell things. I understand that. I can’t resist the smells of fresh baked cookies, or anything edible for that matter. I love the smell of coffee. In any non-Mormon owned grocery store in Utah, I will walk down the coffee aisle multiple times taking deep breaths of that gratifying, earthy aroma. I’ll admit that I like the smell of gasoline. Whenever I start the dish washer, the ritual begins with a whiff of that sweet, clean Cascade detergent. I appreciate my sense of smell.

I just spent 10 minutes observing an elderly Asian woman at our printing station in the library. She opened the paper tray and removed a stack of blank paper. I assumed we had a thief on our hands, which I was perfectly willing to forgive. This tiny woman proceeded to gently lift the small stack of fresh paper to her nose and inhale the scent of bleached saw dust. She gave a silent nod of approval as she replaced the paper into the printer. She did the same thing with each tray of paper in each printer, silently approving of all in turn. Only then did she print the document that she had intended to, finally knowing how it would smell upon its completion.

I can only imagine the images conjured by the smell of a blank page. Perhaps she marveled at its surplus, having been an item of luxury in her childhood. Perhaps she was mourning the loss of a beloved tree she once encountered. Perhaps, with her tiny body, she was able to reach some sort of high due to the chemicals in the paper. I will never know. But I do know exactly how my face looked as I was watching her smell my paper: confused.

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