Another workday began too early. I staggered into the bathroom before sunrise, cup of coffee in hand. As I got ready to shower and shave, I squeezed a fat blob of light- and dark-green toothpaste on my toothbrush and set it on the tiny sink. Deciding to shave first (my routine varies), I rubbed some L’Occitane on my stubbly face, shaved and showered and continued getting ready. Done in the bathroom (or so I thought), I then put on a lightweight summer suit to withstand the heat of the August day ahead of me and was on my way.
With numerous projects, meetings and issues to handle, I expected a harried day. Midmorning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down for a meeting with the magazine’s web team. I discovered the coffee was a hazelnut blend, which made me gag. I don’t like the scent, and it reminded me of a long-ago employee’s perpetually bad coffee breath. Ugh.
After a quick burrito for lunch and other tasks crammed in between meetings, I ended my workday with a drive across town to a two-plus-hour board meeting. In between debating and voting on the numerous motions proffered, I chatted with those next to me around the crowded table. Upon leaving, I headed west on Interstate 80 and sped home&emdash;a barbecue to light and steak to grill awaited. I went into the bathroom where my day had begun 12 hours earlier and changed into some old shorts and a T-shirt, ready to sip a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and join my wife in our backyard. Our Lab impatiently waited, carrying a tennis ball in her mouth.
It was while changing that I noticed the toothbrush, still sitting on the sink where I had left it, covered with a now-crusty stripe of toothpaste.
I had forgotten to brush my teeth that morning.
A wave of revulsion swept over me. How could I have forgotten to brush? How many of the 50-odd people I’d been in rooms with that day had I unknowingly offended with wafts of my bad breath?
Like most people, I worry about my breath offending others. Fresh breath is paramount to good hygiene, right? I typically brush my teeth several times a day and occasionally use mouthwash or droplets from a tiny bottle of Aveda Peppymint I keep in my car. But I did none of these things on that particular day.
I thought about the halitosis-affected people I sometimes encounter and how much their bad breath bothers me. I doubt I would ever tell someone I encounter that they have bad breath&emdash;it’s too sensitive a subject. Nor would I expect anyone to tell me if I was a culprit. I tried to recall if any co-workers had backpedaled hurriedly after I said Hi! I don’t recall anyone grimacing while I spoke with them . . .
I extend my sincere regrets to anyone who may have had to smell my nasty breath on that hot August day and promise to be more careful. And from now on, I’ll keep the Peppymint close by.