Did I Really Need To Know That?

by admin on May 14, 2012

The other morning before going to work I dropped my car off at a local mechanic to get the summer tires installed. On my way to the location, I had stopped by a local coffee shop and was sipping my coffee while the attendant at the mechanic’s took my information.

Midway through the process, she stopped, pulled a peppermint out of her pocket and tossed it in her mouth. I thought nothing of this, why would I, until she glanced up at me and said, “Sorry, I can’t stand the smell of coffee breath this early in the morning.”     I was dumbfounded!   0430-12
 Why people feel the need to explain their otherwise innocuous actions thus revealing that there was an actual motive behind it, escapes me.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon May 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

I would have pointedly told her she just lost future business.


One Fish, Two Fish May 14, 2012 at 9:53 am

She needs another peppermint to get the foot taste out.


ShinyFun May 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

Well, to be fair, coffee breath is pretty noxious. Too bad people can’t be more considerate by not drinking/eating strong smelling things in other peoples work places.


Shelly May 14, 2012 at 10:23 am

I don’t understand this. Was she complaining about OP’s coffee breath or her own? If it were her own, then this is an absolute non-issue. If it were about OP, then wow. Pretty rude.


Ashley May 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

Every single job I’ve ever had has involved customer service in some respect. Oh the strange things customers have told me…I work at a loan office now and I swear some of these people must think I’m a psychologist or a doctor or something.


Calli Arcale May 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Sometimes the mouth opens up and the brain falls out. It happens. Is it a gaffe? Yes, but not really a major one, IMHO.


Baku-chan May 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I’m confused as to how putting a mint in her mouth would get rid of the OP’s coffee breath. Not to mention it would have been easier if she just offered a mint to the OP. It wouldn’t look suspicious since she herself had just taken one. I think she was talking about her own breath and was a bit thoughtless about it.


Amp2140 May 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

It was her own coffee breath! I am continuously dumbfounded by the number of stories here that involve the OP getting all upset about something that probably was meant to be nice. This woman was trying to keep her own coffee breath from the client, a polite thing.

I just can’t stand people that go out of their way to be offended. It’s like the woman that take ‘you look very nice today’ as ‘you look hideous every other day’. Take two seconds to possible look at another explanation.


Aje May 14, 2012 at 1:15 pm

True she could have been talking about herself. Maybe she just had a cup or something.


eears May 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I’m sorry, but how does popping a peppermint in her OWN mouth get rid of the coffee breath of the OP? Shouldn’t she have offered the mint to the OP?


Ashley May 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I totally understood this as her talking about her own breath, not the customer’s.


AS May 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm

To give her the advantage of doubt, it might just have been a foot-in-mouth moment for her (she was giving justification why she suddenly wanted to pull a mint out).


Cat May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Some information should be shared with everyone; some with only a few people; some information you should keep to yourself. This is an example of the last of the three.
The only polite thing the attendant could have said would have been, “Would you like to have one of these mints?” in an attitude of sharing something one was enjoying.


Cobbs May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I love your comment, “OneFish, Two Fish!”


gramma dishes May 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I’m with Shelly. I’m not sure if she was complaining about your breath or if she was complaining about her own!

If she meant your breath smelled like coffee (which it may have since you were in the process of drinking it) then she should have offered you the mint instead and yes, she was rude to mention it. If she was referring to her own, then I don’t really see it as an issue.


Jays May 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Seriously, ShinyFun? We’re no longer allowed to drink coffee in the workplace?

There goes my occupation.


Danielle May 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm

That is a really bizarre way to behave. What ever happened to “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all?”

Also, I was always taught that if someone has bad breath, offer them a mint. Take one yourself so it appears that you are just being friendly. Also, if someone offers you a mint, you should always take it…they may be trying to hint that your breath is less than fresh. Why in the world would someone just come out and say something like that?


joyous May 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

She said she can’t stand the “smell”. You don’t typically smell your own breath (you have to cup your hands over your mouth and nose to get a sense of your breath). If I was referring to my own breath, if I said anything (which I wouldn’t have done so in the first place), I would have simply said, “Sorry, I can’t stand the TASTE of coffee breath this early in the morning.”…or simply, “Sorry, I just had a coffee and need a mint. Do you want one?”

However, I agree with Danielle. Perhaps Shiny Fun should practice standing three feet away from people if s/he finds coffee breath so noxious?


German Shepherd May 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Did the attendant say, “I can’t stand the smell of coffee breath this early in the morning” or “I can’t stand the taste of coffee breath this early in the morning”? I think it was the latter because why else would she pop a peppermint? The peppermint helps with the taste, not the scent.

Sometimes people feel it’s rude to talk to others with gum or other candy in their mouth because it can be distracting or show boredom. Attendant probably explained why she got the peppermint so the OP wouldn’t think of her as rude for eating the candy while they talked.


GroceryGirl May 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Thank you, Amp2140. It sounds like the OP is way overreacting here. Sure, people overshare but it usually seems born of social awkwardness rather than boorishness. Some people just can’t manage to say the right thing but there’s no reason to nitpick over every little thing people do wrong.


clairedelune May 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

My word, if ever there were a case for giving the benefit of the doubt, it’s this. She probably was talking about herself, and what she meant to say came out all muddled, as happens to most of us from time to time.


Jared Bascomb May 15, 2012 at 12:04 am

I’m going to side with the people who believe that the attendant was covering her own coffee breath and give her the benefit of the doubt, mainly because I have the same problem made even worse by a mild allergic reaction to dairy products. I’d always pop a mint or (briefly) chew some gum after drinking my morning cappucino just to get rid of the vile leftover taste in my mouth and the resulting bad breath.

And as others have noted, a mint in her mouth would do nothing to camouflage the odor of the OP’s breath.


Bint May 15, 2012 at 5:57 am

German Shepherd makes a good point. Someone serving me while sucking sweets or chewing gum is just being unprofessional. I’ve asked people to take their gum out while serving before.

That said, er, this is surely the woman excusing herself for her OWN breath? Assuming she meant the customer’s is weird.


Emmy May 15, 2012 at 10:01 am

I know when I suck on a mint, all I can smell is the mint in my mouth. My cube neighbor often eats foods that smell badly to me so I’ll suck on a mint and not be able to smell it as strongly. I made the assumption that the attendet was doing something similar, and thus making a comment such as “Coffee breath bothers me, I’ll suck this here peppermint to cover the smell of your coffee breath”.

I can see the other side of her saying it in a manner such as “I’m sorry to suck on this mint while you’re here, I’m just very aware of my coffee breath and it bothers me”, I had a boss who sucked on mints all the time because she was very self-concious of her breath (for unknown reasons), she’d usualy apologize along the lines of “Excuse the mint, I just finished my morning coffee and wanted to rid myself of coffee breath”.

Since she didn’t offer a mint to OP, in the same situation, I probably would’ve thought nothing of it. Only the attendet making idel chit chat while filling out paperwork. In less she’d given me some kind of evil eye or started at my coffee cup while saying it. Trying to make a point that I had coffee breath.


The Elf May 15, 2012 at 10:45 am

I think she meant the customer’s breath. Or else why say anything at all?

I have at times offered a peppermint to visiting coworkers. I don’t comment, I just pull it out, eat one, and offer the container. They can refuse or take, their choice. (Even though I’m really hoping that they take.)


Calli Arcale May 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

Joyous: “You don’t typically smell your own breath.” Well, maybe you don’t, but some people do. I have a terrible sense of smell, so I don’t have this problem, but my husband’s is quite acute, and sometimes when he tries a new food, he winds up tormented by the smell of his own breath.


Laura May 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I’ve given birth twice. Only once did I say anything unpleasant to anyone, and that was to yell at my poor mother for her coffee breath!

In this case, I think the woman was talking about her own coffee breath, not yours.


Debra May 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm

OP here. It was my coffee breath she was offended by. Not really a major gaffe, agreed, but just odd. I completely understand people not liking coffee/coffee breath and strongly scented peppermints can help counteract the smell, but there isn’t any need to explain why.


Calliope May 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

OP, out of curiosity, how are you sure it was your coffee breath? That seems really odd to me.


Joyous May 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Calli Arcale: exactly my point. If she can’t smell her own breath, she was likely referring to the OP.


Enna May 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

I’m baffled at what the attendent ment, her breath or the OP’s breath?

@ ShinnyFun, I disagree, coffee isn’t an unpleasent smell compared to say BO. And when someone stinks of cannibis that is objectionable.


Hannah May 18, 2012 at 12:49 am

@ Enna
Coffee isn’t a bad smell, but if you’ve ever smelled anyone’s breath about half an hour after they’ve had a cup…that could knock over a horse.


justme June 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Well, she may have been talking about her own breath. In fact, she didn’t offer you a mint, so I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s likely she wasn’t talking about your breath.

And to people who hate the smell of coffee breath in the morning: I sympathize, but get used to it! People gonna drink their coffee.


justme June 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm

@Debra: oh, just read your comment. Yeah, that’s pretty rude. Maybe she felt that eating the mint was rude, and thought she needed to offer an explanation, but an explanation of “I can’t stand your breath” is much ruder by comparison. In this case, she should have gone with the lesser of two evils.


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