Every week, Prudie answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. Nicole Cliffe is filling in for Danny Ortberg this week.
Q. The potent smells: My boyfriend and I work late nights, and our roommate works a 9–5 as a teacher. Every morning at 6 a.m. he fires up his breakfast/lunch and puts what must amount to several tablespoons of curry and garlic powder on the stovetop. This intense “aroma” punches us awake every single morning. Our other two roommates who also work late at night get awoken as well. We have asked for the 9–5er to crack a door and turn on a fan, but it hasn’t worked. We live in a unique warehouse space that lacks a proper kitchen and ventilation, so the stink lingers for hours. At night he comes home and cooks the same exact thing with a variation of fish, which is equally off-putting. Our rooms are constantly filled with that stench and it’s even on the towels in our shared bathroom. It is very unpleasant. Every morning and afternoon we try to light candles and burn incense in our room but to no avail. We love him and in all other instances he’s a great guy, but our collective interrupted sleep is really beginning to wear us down. Can we tell him to maybe cook some eggs and bacon instead and give the curry spices a rest? Is that rude?
I will take your word for it that the smell gets everywhere. Please buy Ozium, and distribute it freely, including in the kitchen. People use it to hide weed grow-ops, so it should be able to handle some residual curry. Scented candles are not going to get the job done.
If that isn’t cutting the cardamom, I do not think it’s unreasonable to ask your roommate to shake up his breakfast plans a few days a week. He seems to have responded well to your request to crack a door and turn on a fan, so he doesn’t strike me as someone who will react with anger.
If both of these fail, start talking about moving out.