Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: jpcher on June 04, 2013, 08:26:34 PM

Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: jpcher on June 04, 2013, 08:26:34 PM
I have (yup, you guessed it ;)) a dead potted plant in my cubicle. It's been dead for 8+ years, completely dried out with a small bit of dried dirt in the bottom of the planter. I've even added thoroughly dried rose-flower-tops-only to it (from an awards banquet) probably 4 years ago.

It's a personal, private joke of mine. I love that dead plant.


Stupid question: Can a dried arrangement like this all of a sudden turn moldy?


I was slightly aware of an unusual odor this morning. There was a stronger than normal breeze coming through the vents (one of which is directly above my cubicle.) I paid it no nevermind.

Boss sat down in my guest chair today (which is right next to Dead Plant, a chair that she's easily sat in for 15-20+ minutes many times a week during the last 2-1/2 years that she's worked here with never a complaint.) After about 3 minutes into our conversation today she suddenly got up and said "I have to move. I can smell the mold coming off of your plant."

(It is known that Boss has severe mold and other allergies. When she was first hired she had her office thoroughly cleaned and had a special filter installed on the vent to her office which is changed monthly.)


Add a bit of irony . . . Boss acted exactly the same as I did with my aversion to her bananas (#2 in the OP of "Unappealing Smells" http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=126577.0 ) She stood outside of the entrance to my cube, looking away, as we finished our conversation.*


After business was taken care of, I thoroughly inspected my dead plant. I stuck my nose right in the middle, and didn't detect any odor. I put my finger in the dirt . . . dry and crumbly. I gently picked up and turned over the roses, put them to my nose . . . nothing. I honestly don't believe my dead plant is moldy.


*As an update to the banana thread . . . Whenever I walk into Boss' office, she'll say "Oh. Wait." and she takes the bananas off of her desk and tucks them into a drawer.



So, my question are: What would you do? Would you get rid of your plant? Even though originating mold aroma is questionable? What would you say to your Boss? Especially since Boss has been accommodating to my aversion of banana smell?

Is there any way I can politely defend my dead plant and keep it?


I honestly do understand allergies. If my beloved dead plant is causing a serious allergic reaction to Boss I will certainly be rid of it. But after 2+ years of Boss sitting next to the dead plant, is the dead plant really the cause of the problem?
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: GLaDOS on June 04, 2013, 08:31:16 PM
Have you checked under your desk and in the corners for water damage? Maybe that's what she's smelling and attributing it to? I'd trust that she's smelling mold from something, somewhere, but it would be strange for your plant to suddenly get mold.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Outdoor Girl on June 04, 2013, 08:31:27 PM
Get a clear plastic bag that will fit over your dead plant.  Blow some air in the bag to make it puff out and tie the top with some curlycue ribbon.  That way, you get to keep your plant and your boss can't complain about the mould.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: JeseC on June 04, 2013, 08:38:10 PM
Take the plant home with you for a few days.  Put it in a room and see if the smell comes with it.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: happygrrl on June 04, 2013, 08:55:30 PM
No advice whatsoever, but I do think I love you--  ;D

I bought a loaf of white bread once for the office, and it ended up completely drying out--never lost it's shape, color, no mold, nothing. Just a normal looking loaf of bread (in the wrapper) that was the stalest thing outside of my uncle's jokes. I loved that thing, and it occupied a place of honor on my bookshelf until a cleaning lady threw it out--7 years later.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Amava on June 05, 2013, 04:21:53 AM
Take the plant home with you for a few days.  Put it in a room and see if the smell comes with it.

That's what I would do. Move the plant to your house, and see if it has been away for a while, your boss can still smell the mold in your workplace. If she can, then the mold is in something else.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Margo on June 05, 2013, 05:47:25 AM
In fact, completely enclosing the plant in plastic could work as a temporary mesaure, to see if the smell is the plant or something else,  if taking it home is too much hassle or likely to cause it to fall to bits.

If it is mouldy, the bag will act as a greenhouse and you'll probably see visible mould, in the mean time, the bag will contain any smell, and you can ask Boss to come in and tell you if she can smell anything.

I would imagine it *could* go mouldy, even after 8 years dead, if the environment has changed - if it's got damp or something has been spilled on it, for instance.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: NutellaNut on June 05, 2013, 09:51:55 AM
Speaking as someone who is pretty sensitive and allergic to mold and mildew, yes, it is possible for a formerly dry and un-moldy plant or flower arrangement to grow mold.  I've had bowls of potpourri go for years just fine, then inexplicably get moldy.  It does happen.  And sometimes the non-allergic person won't smell it.

However, if you smelled an unusual smell in general, as you said, but not when you sniffed the plant, there's a decent chance there's another source.  It might be worth checking out the ducting for the vent nearest your station. 
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Isisnin on June 05, 2013, 09:51:55 AM
Could the smell be from the vent?  Anyone else smell the smell anywhere else - particularly anywhere else near one of the vents?

If you remove the plant and the smell goes anyway, that could just be a coincidence yet you've lost your plant.

Just for the fun of it, try the plastic idea.  It would be fascinating to see what if anything happens.

Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Seiryuu on June 05, 2013, 10:12:15 AM
At this point, I would try out the scientific method like others suggested and try to change variables around to see if anything's changed. Make sure your boss is around to confirm.  ;)
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: cwm on June 05, 2013, 12:36:23 PM
Short answer, yes it can mold. Nearly anything can mold. It's all a matter of how likely it is.

If it's under a vent that's acting wonky or changing habits, anything can get any bit of moisture and mold can grow. I'd pick up the pot itself and try moving it to another spot on your desk, but only after you inspect the bottom of the planter first. I also agree that the bag around it would trap any moisture and growth and act as a greenhouse to see if there's anything in there already.

Also, I just have to say, I love the idea of this dead plant. I used to keep dead flowers until I had to get rid of them, but I miss each and every single one of them. I'll have to look into getting a dead potted plant for my mom, as the only kind she can keep is dead. It's an inside joke that she's somehow able to kill even silk flowers.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Charliebug on June 05, 2013, 01:58:39 PM
I wonder if there isn't a certain level of passive aggressiveness in her sudden aversion to your plant considering her need to make a big deal of putting her bananas in her desk before you enter the room?  ::)
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: bopper on June 06, 2013, 08:29:08 AM
Also you don't know if some" helpful " person watered your dead plant at sometime and that caused the mold. 
I would take steps to do SOMETHING as your boss seems reasonable with helping you with awful smell of bananas.
As a fellow banana-loather, I can appreciate that.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Virg on June 06, 2013, 09:04:59 AM
I had the same thought as bopper, in that I thought about the possibility that someone watered your plant as a favor.  I'm with those who suggest relocating the plant and then asking your boss if the smell left with it.  If you suspect that she's just trying to get rid of the plant, then that's PA but at the same time she's your boss and losing the plant would be a small deal next to having your boss think that you're that much more a team player.

Virg
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: LEMon on June 06, 2013, 09:24:57 AM
When you mentioned the vent, I wondered if that was the trouble.  I would run some tests before I got rid of my plant.  Moving the plant (or plastic bagging it), and asking her to stand under the vent, and close her eyes.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: Isisnin on June 06, 2013, 09:35:57 AM
Can you take the plant out of the pot and replace the soil with sand?  Since sand is not organic material, if someone does "helpful" water it, the sand would be far less likely to grow mold.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years (S/O "Unappealing Smells")
Post by: onikenbai on June 07, 2013, 10:34:06 PM
Short answer, yes it can mold. Nearly anything can mold. It's all a matter of how likely it is.

If it's under a vent that's acting wonky or changing habits, anything can get any bit of moisture and mold can grow. I'd pick up the pot itself and try moving it to another spot on your desk, but only after you inspect the bottom of the planter first. I also agree that the bag around it would trap any moisture and growth and act as a greenhouse to see if there's anything in there already.

I agree right up until making a plastic bag greenhouse as there is no point in encouraging mould growth.  If the HVAC was in unusually high gear then it's very possible the funny smell could have been coming from the building system.  Dust and moulds settle in the ducts and spring is the time when the AC get tested out and all that stuff gets disturbed, and very few commercial buildings invest in regular duct cleanings.  Unless somebody was helpful and watered your dead plant to kick start mould growth, the problem probably isn't your plant, it's probably the building.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: jpcher on June 08, 2013, 02:06:19 PM
No advice whatsoever, but I do think I love you--  ;D

I bought a loaf of white bread once for the office, and it ended up completely drying out--never lost it's shape, color, no mold, nothing. Just a normal looking loaf of bread (in the wrapper) that was the stalest thing outside of my uncle's jokes. I loved that thing, and it occupied a place of honor on my bookshelf until a cleaning lady threw it out--7 years later.

8) You're my new hero of the day!  ;D


Thanks, all for your suggestions. I really appreciate your help. I do not want anything in my cube to be offensive to Boss or anybody else for that matter.

I'm not going to bring it home (it's an office thing ::)) and plastic bagging it would take a rather large sized clear plastic bag and would (in my opinion) destroy the "look."


Also you don't know if some" helpful " person watered your dead plant at sometime and that caused the mold. 
I would take steps to do SOMETHING as your boss seems reasonable with helping you with awful smell of bananas.
As a fellow banana-loather, I can appreciate that.

Oh, I certainly hope nobody watered the darned thing! :o Wow. I never thought anybody would think of doing that, watering someone else's plant?

I do agree that I should do SOMETHING, especially since she's highly allergic.

Funny thing, though, she sat in my guest chair the day after I posted for 20 minutes with nary a complaint.


If the HVAC was in unusually high gear then it's very possible the funny smell could have been coming from the building system.  Dust and moulds settle in the ducts and spring is the time when the AC get tested out and all that stuff gets disturbed, and very few commercial buildings invest in regular duct cleanings.

I'm hoping this was the problem. I don't normally smell anything "off" in the office air, but that day I did. Maybe they were cleaning the ducts or something like that.

Yesterday, I did move the plant to the other side of my cube, maybe 8ft away from the guest chair. Just to be safe. I'll keep a good eye on it and if I detect anything even the slightest bit moldy or smelly, I'll get rid of it.

Do you think this is a good enough solution?
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: spaceheatersusan on June 08, 2013, 04:15:19 PM
Not to sound mean, but why don't you just take the plant home?  Your boss has made a concession for you regarding the bananas, so maybe do her a favour in return and remove the offending plant.  It seems like a good way to maintain a good relationship between the two of you.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: jpcher on June 08, 2013, 04:55:55 PM
Not to sound mean, but why don't you just take the plant home?  Your boss has made a concession for you regarding the bananas, so maybe do her a favour in return and remove the offending plant.  It seems like a good way to maintain a good relationship between the two of you.

Because the entire relevance/history of the plant has significance to my office life. It won't have the same meaning if it's in my home.


If the general consensus is to toss the dead plant, I certainly will do that. I do not want to have anything that offends CWs or Boss or anybody else that visits me during the work-cycle-day in my cube.

If I can keep the dead plant in my cube without any offense? That would be my preferred choice.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: NyaChan on June 08, 2013, 05:23:34 PM
I would take a picture of it, photoshop R.I.P. on the bottom, frame it and put it up in my office :)
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: guihong on June 08, 2013, 05:25:22 PM
I would take a picture of it, photoshop R.I.P. on the bottom, frame it and put it up in my office :)

I think that's a great idea.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: nonesuch4 on June 08, 2013, 07:24:17 PM
Maybe have it cremated and put it in a nice container?
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: Softly Spoken on June 08, 2013, 08:37:36 PM
Shellac? Or some other kind of preservative? >:D

Otherwise I got nothin but PODs to everyone else. *shrugs apologetically*


PS: Dried out things can get moldy IMHO but only if water if added again as PPs mentioned. I have some petrified plants that are in moldy soil because I thought maybe I could revive them from the roots. Thanks to this thread I now remember I need to throw them out.  :-[ *scurries off*
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: camlan on June 09, 2013, 07:56:04 AM
There's a smell. Both you and your boss noticed it. So I'd move the plant temporarily and see if the smell remains. Get your boss to double check.

If the smell is gone, it was either the plant or a temporary glitch in the air conditioning. Bring the plant back and ask your boss to smell again. If the smell is back--it's the plant.

If the plant is gone and the smell lingers on, call Maintenance and get the A/C checked.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: spaceheatersusan on June 09, 2013, 11:39:07 AM
Not to sound mean, but why don't you just take the plant home?  Your boss has made a concession for you regarding the bananas, so maybe do her a favour in return and remove the offending plant.  It seems like a good way to maintain a good relationship between the two of you.

Because the entire relevance/history of the plant has significance to my office life. It won't have the same meaning if it's in my home.


But is keeping this plant really worth compromising your relationship with your boss?
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: eee on June 09, 2013, 11:57:42 AM
Not to sound mean, but why don't you just take the plant home?  Your boss has made a concession for you regarding the bananas, so maybe do her a favour in return and remove the offending plant.  It seems like a good way to maintain a good relationship between the two of you.

Because the entire relevance/history of the plant has significance to my office life. It won't have the same meaning if it's in my home.


But is keeping this plant really worth compromising your relationship with your boss?

Yeah, imho, chuck it. Your boss has indicated she thinks it is gross (smelly == gross) .... I agree that a dry, dead shrivelly plant is humorous, but if your boss doesn't think it's "funny gross" then I'd probably think that kind of humour isn't appreciated in her workplace. It's a small concession, especially if she's being banana-sensitive on your behalf.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: LEMon on June 09, 2013, 04:23:39 PM
Not to sound mean, but why don't you just take the plant home?  Your boss has made a concession for you regarding the bananas, so maybe do her a favour in return and remove the offending plant.  It seems like a good way to maintain a good relationship between the two of you.

Because the entire relevance/history of the plant has significance to my office life. It won't have the same meaning if it's in my home.


But is keeping this plant really worth compromising your relationship with your boss?

Yeah, imho, chuck it. Your boss has indicated she thinks it is gross (smelly == gross) .... I agree that a dry, dead shrivelly plant is humorous, but if your boss doesn't think it's "funny gross" then I'd probably think that kind of humour isn't appreciated in her workplace. It's a small concession, especially if she's being banana-sensitive on your behalf.
But, as the OP said, the boss has sat in her cubicle since with no problems or complaints.  So chances are good it was the air ducts, not the plant.  Plus OP moved the plant just in case.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: spaceheatersusan on June 09, 2013, 07:27:09 PM
Not to sound mean, but why don't you just take the plant home?  Your boss has made a concession for you regarding the bananas, so maybe do her a favour in return and remove the offending plant.  It seems like a good way to maintain a good relationship between the two of you.

Because the entire relevance/history of the plant has significance to my office life. It won't have the same meaning if it's in my home.


But is keeping this plant really worth compromising your relationship with your boss?

Yeah, imho, chuck it. Your boss has indicated she thinks it is gross (smelly == gross) .... I agree that a dry, dead shrivelly plant is humorous, but if your boss doesn't think it's "funny gross" then I'd probably think that kind of humour isn't appreciated in her workplace. It's a small concession, especially if she's being banana-sensitive on your behalf.
But, as the OP said, the boss has sat in her cubicle since with no problems or complaints.  So chances are good it was the air ducts, not the plant.  Plus OP moved the plant just in case.

Here's the thing - the boss thinks the smell is coming from the plant.  If OP removes the plant, boss is pleased that OP is trying to accommodate her, like boss did with bananas, and goodwill will be increased.  If it get's into this "let's put it in a bag for a day" or "boss, come smell this plant", the boss is still going to think the smell is lingering from the plant and that she's being given the run around.  No one asking you to throw the plant in the garbage.  You can take it home.  I guess I just don't get the reasoning of s significant item only having significance in one particular place.  In the workplace, it's a good idea to make small sacrifices if they will affect your work relationship.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: eee on June 09, 2013, 07:31:39 PM
I guess I technically said "chuck it" but of course taking it home is an equally good (or better) solution :)
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: LEMon on June 09, 2013, 10:45:01 PM
So the OP should get ride of something that she has indicated has emotional value to her but only in that location, to please a boss that hasn't commented again?  Sounds like boss has forgotten about it so why should OP act?  Boss is unlikely to even notice the accommodation given to her.

I am totally open to if boss notices again, OP acting immediately.  But why act when it is likely not the problem and unlikely to be noticed?
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: Curious Cat on June 09, 2013, 11:08:50 PM
I agree with the posters that suggested taking a picture and framing it - brilliant!
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: nyoprinces on June 10, 2013, 10:56:31 AM
So the OP should get ride of something that she has indicated has emotional value to her but only in that location, to please a boss that hasn't commented again?  Sounds like boss has forgotten about it so why should OP act?  Boss is unlikely to even notice the accommodation given to her.

I am totally open to if boss notices again, OP acting immediately.  But why act when it is likely not the problem and unlikely to be noticed?

The boss likely felt that she'd made her request and it would be awkward or harping to bring it up again. I agree with the suggestion to take a picture. The plant may have sentimental value, but isn't worth awkwardness in your relationship with your boss. Keeping it around is one of those things that may seem minor to you, but may seem to the boss like something too minor for her to make a big deal out of, but still a statement about your priorities.
Title: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17
Post by: MariaE on June 10, 2013, 02:58:38 PM
So the OP should get ride of something that she has indicated has emotional value to her but only in that location, to please a boss that hasn't commented again?  Sounds like boss has forgotten about it so why should OP act?  Boss is unlikely to even notice the accommodation given to her.

I am totally open to if boss notices again, OP acting immediately.  But why act when it is likely not the problem and unlikely to be noticed?

The boss likely felt that she'd made her request and it would be awkward or harping to bring it up again. I agree with the suggestion to take a picture. The plant may have sentimental value, but isn't worth awkwardness in your relationship with your boss. Keeping it around is one of those things that may seem minor to you, but may seem to the boss like something too minor for her to make a big deal out of, but still a statement about your priorities.

I agree with this. Boss made an effort to keep bananas out of the OP's sight smell - I think the OP needs to do something similar with this plant. Take it home for awhile to prove that it isn't the plant - then when the smell still lingers, you can bring it back. Or do what PPs suggested and take a photo of it, and have that in the office instead.

I think you need to show boss the same courtesy she showed you. I understand the plant won't have the same meaning at home - that's unfortunate, but not worth creating an awkward situation with your boss.