The One About the Odor

I recycle. Not every single thing. I just generically recycle. As a concept, I hope it’s working. The marketing sure is. And I don’t like to see things go to waste. Use or re-use or give it to someone who can use it. So that is how it came to pass that a plastic gallon of milk was in the back of the van. But wait, there’s a bit more to it than that. Naturally.

When I was laid off at the end of January, my belongings were loaded into a plastic tub and put into the trunk of the van. Key word there. Van. Because you know, it’s not like the trunk is closed off from the rest of the vehicle like your standard car. But I’m jumping ahead. So I did what most people would do. I left my stuff in the back of the van. I had worked at the radio station for 15 years. I had no room for that stuff in my house. (Turns out I do now. It’s cramping my bedroom, still unpacked. Yeah, denial, whatever.)

So, stay with me here, either I had hauled the trash and recyclables to the dump or Jim had. Let’s blame Jim. And the bag with the poorly rinsed out, apparently, milk carton, got wedged behind the plastic tub. I’m assuming it was rinsed out. I always rinse them. Unless Jim collected it and didn’t rinse it. Entirely possible. End result was the same. A day or two later, something started to smell amiss. Jim smelled nothing. Another day or two later and I crawled all over the vehicle—still couldn’t find anything icky.

On the day I did find it, Anna Grace and I were positive it smelled like sour milk. I thought maybe it was a sippy cup with Jenna’s chocolate milk in it wedged under a seat. Even though I rarely let her take milk in the car for just that reason. So, two months after I was laid off, I took my belongings out of the van. And there it was. The milk carton.

I thought the first cleaning would’ve done it. I used wet towels and dry ones. I had every door open on that vehicle for days on end in sunny weather, in warm, in cool weather and in breezy weather. I aired that sucker out. I put air fresheners in the car. Still didn’t work. Jim still didn’t smell the smell.

Anna Grace started with a daily litany of remarks. “Why don’t we get a new car? This one stinks.” “Can we hurry up and get to school so I can get out of this car?” “Why does the car still smell like sour milk?” “Why didn’t you make the stink go away today?” “When will our car no longer smell bad?” You get the picture. Jenna didn’t seem to be bothered by it.

Friend Brien didn’t say all the things Anna Grace said but groaned every time he got in the car. Which is pretty much the same thing. Does make me wonder about the smelling abilities of Anna Grace and Brien compared to Jim and Jenna. Maybe Jenna’s just not a complainer. Because Jim sure is.

So, three air fresheners two cleanings and one shampooing later and the sour milk now smells like a dead body. I guess. Never smelled one. But you get the picture. Not good. It has been suggested that I use lemon juice. Or leave a bar of soap in there. I’m going with a classic and using baking soda next. I know that eventually that smell has got to go away.

Because it’s not just a smell. It’s an odor. It has substance. It smacks you in the face when you open the door. It’s sentient. It wants to live. It wants to possess my vehicle. And I’m not having any of it.