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DEAR ABBY: My workplace, like many others, is "scent-free" because of the possibility that some employees might be chemically sensitive. We don't know of anyone with sensitivities, but it's company policy. I changed to using unscented laundry soap and stopped wearing perfume when the policy started.

The other day, a lady in my office came in and announced loudly that there was a "terrible perfume smell" in the corridor. After what I think was intrusive sniffing, she decided it was coming from me. I had showered that morning and the only things it could have been were my shampoo, hair spray or body soap. All are normal, everyday brands, not unusually perfumy ones.

There was a lot of complaining and a "reminder" of the policy. It's unlikely that HR would take this up, but am I obligated to change these products? I don't want to because this feels like it's going too far to dictate what soap I can use. I should be able to choose the basic products I put on my body.

I'm also unhappy with the "sniff police." What should I do if she does that again? -- PERFUME SMELL IN ST. PAUL

DEAR P.S.: If it happens again, go to HR and have them explain the policy. I suspect that what it refers to is perfume, which some people are allergic to. However, if it's for more than that, then I agree the policy is heavy-handed and needs to be clarified so that everyone can clearly understand it.


DEAR ABBY: My husband was married before for 20 years. We have been married for 30 years. We get along great, except lately he has been bringing out his jewelry from his previous marriage. The items consist of a wedding ring, watch, etc.

He doesn't hide them. He shows them off to me. When I tell him how much this hurts me, he says they will be worth something in cash someday. If I bring a piece of jewelry out that I would like him to wear, he runs and gets a piece that his ex gave him, places them side by side and compares them!

I'm so mad I have stopped speaking to him, which makes him very upset and sometimes he cries. Please give us your advice. -- SILENT AND STEAMING IN VIRGINIA

DEAR SILENT AND STEAMING: Unlike you, your husband obviously isn't sentimental about jewelry. If he likes it, he likes it, and he doesn't care where it came from. This would explain why he compares the items side by side, which is insensitive.

You need to discuss this with him at a time when you're not upset. Giving someone the silent treatment is not an effective way to communicate, nor is it a healthy way to solve problems.

The next time your husband says that "one day that jewelry will be worth something," ask him if he means after he dies or you do -- and suggest that now may be the time for him to sell it.

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