Natalie Kuhn: "It's ridiculous."
Greg Fulmes, Calgary Herald
A woman has been told by Calgary Transit she has to sit at the back of the bus because her perfume overwhelms the driver.
Natalie Kuhn, 26, was boarding the No. 137 bus to work in Crowfoot on Friday morning when the driver told her he refused to drive.
"He told the passengers: 'Due to the excessive amount of perfume this woman's wearing, we won't be going anywhere,' " Kuhn said.
Kuhn had been wearing the perfume, Very Irresistible by Givenchy, without incident with the same driver for the past two weeks until Thursday, when he warned her about the scent. That's when the driver told her she'd have to take another route the next day, Kuhn said.
When she boarded the same bus at the Dalhousie C-Train station around 8:30 a.m. Friday, the driver got off and refused to drive, she said.
"The woman next to me said she couldn't smell me," Kuhn said.
The driver called a supervisor, who showed up five minutes later to drive Kuhn to work. She then complained to Calgary Transit, who told her it would investigate.
She got a call Friday afternoon telling her she could ride the bus only if she sat at the back. Kuhn agreed, saying she had no choice because she needed a way to get to work. But she vowed to fight the move.
"I think it's ridiculous. This is a public service I'm paying for," she said.
City spokesman Tony McCallum said Calgary Transit is investigating, calling it "a priority." There is no city bylaw banning strong scents on public transit, he added.
"There's a potential medical issue with the driver," McCallum said, though he couldn't explain how two weeks passed without any problems.
McCallum said the move to the back of the bus was "an interim solution," though Kuhn said those words were never mentioned to her.
McCallum also couldn't say whether the driver's reaction was related to the transit union's work-to-rule campaign, which began Friday after 10 months of stalled labour talks with the city.
"It's an obvious question given the circumstances right now," he said.
Mike Mahar, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 583, representing 2,400 transit workers, said the incident was unrelated to the union's campaign.
The Givenchy perfume is described by its makers as "a fragrance that brings out the spontaneity in all women" and "is perfect for women who are carefree and have a joie de vivre." "It is impossible to resist its seduction," Givenchy claims.
Kuhn said she sees no need to simply change her perfume the next time she boards the bus.
"I pay $70 for a public service," she said. "I don't see why I should have to alter my hygiene."
Tue, March 27, 2007
Passenger in-scentsed after being booted from bus a second time
UPDATED: 2007-03-27 03:23:07 MST
By TARINA WHITE, SUN MEDIA
Booted off a city bus a second time yesterday because of her scent, a shaken transit passenger is demanding a public apology.
Natalie Kuhn, who was ordered off a bus last Friday by a driver who complained about her perfume, says she was again publicly humiliated by another bus driver during her morning commute to work yesterday.
"Everything was fine for the first eight minutes of the bus ride, and then he pulled over and started opening all of the windows," said the 25-year-old chiropractic assistant.
The driver and Kuhn got into a verbal confrontation about her scent, Very Irresistible by Givenchy, which was a source of conflict with another bus driver last Friday.
While still on the parked bus yesterday, Kuhn called the city to complain and the driver paged his supervisor.
A short time later, a transit employee arrived to escort Kuhn to her destination. She said both altercations have left her rattled and she's worried about taking the bus again.
Calgary Transit spokesman Tony McCallum said the city is investigating both incidents.
He said it's too soon to say whether any action will be taken against the drivers, or whether an apology will be made.
On my way down to work I heard the interview she gave on the radio this morning, the bus driver on Monday told her to "Shut your mouth!" When she tried to speak up and "Shut your pie-hole" again when she tried to defend herself.