A Smelly Symphony Saved!

, , , | Working | July 1, 2020

I’ve recently moved very close to our city’s symphony orchestra center, and I want to attend performances when I can afford it. Unfortunately, the symphony is pretty expensive, and even a seat at the very back of the concert hall has to be budgeted for. 

I purchase my first ticket, and I am so excited! I figure, since you’re at the symphony to listen more than to watch, being at the back of the concert hall won’t be that bad. I make it to my seat, and just before the show starts I feel someone take the seat behind me. I am immediately engulfed in a cloud of noxious perfume, so bad my eyes start to water instantly. 

I’m a little sensitive to strong perfume or aerosol smells, but the average amount most people wear isn’t enough to trigger a reaction. This case is ridiculous. It’s like she’s DOUSED herself with the entire bottle. She also keeps fidgeting and leaning closer to the back of my seat as she rearranges herself, each time bringing the smell closer. 

I try to enjoy the music, but by the intermission I can barely keep my eyes open, my throat is burning, and my nose is clogged. I leap up and go outside for some fresh air. This symphony ticket is the most expensive thing I’ve bought for myself in months, and I think I am going to have to just deal with it. 

I am coming back inside when an older woman who is volunteering as an usher comes over to me. 

Usher: “Are you all right, sweetie?”

Me: “Huh? Yes, I’m fine. Thank you.”

Usher: “You look like you’ve been crying. Are you sure?”

Me: “Oh! No, it’s okay. I wasn’t crying, but the woman seated behind me has on some very strong perfume and it’s aggravating my sinuses.”

Usher: “Well, we can’t have that!”

She grabs my arm with a surprisingly strong grip and propels me over to the box office. 

Usher: *To the ticket agent* “This young lady needs a new seat, please. She’s having a reaction to another guest’s perfume and it’s affecting her ability to enjoy the symphony.”

Ticket Agent: “Of course!”

The ticket agent prints off a new ticket and hands it to the usher.

Ticket Agent: “I hope you enjoy the second half of the performance.”

All this is done in seconds, before I can even get a word in. Then, the usher has me by the arm again and we head down the stairs to the main floor of the concert hall. She leads me to an amazing seat in the center orchestra section. This seat easily costs twice what I paid for my original seat.

Me: “Wow, thank you so much! You didn’t have to move me to such a nice seat.”

Usher: “Nonsense! Everyone should enjoy their time at the symphony! You take care, now.” 

I got seated with just a few minutes to spare before intermission was over. Thankfully, no one around my new seat had the same perfume over-application as my previous seat, and I was able to truly enjoy the second half. It had honestly never occurred to me that I could ask to switch seats, if one happened to be open. Now I know, at least at this venue, that it’s an option.

Thank you again, kind usher lady. You made my first symphony experience so much better!


This story is included in our Feel-Good roundup for July 2020!

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