One Bad Apple: FM Complaints

When I was a kid, at the end of the year I discovered a baggie of liquified brown goo in the back of my locker. It was a banana, or rather had been. As I remember that, I'm struck at the amazing seal on that baggie! I don't remember a smell at all. The FMs in these stories submitted by Building Operating Management readers unfortunately did not have likewise hermetically sealed surprises. Enjoy!

"We received a work request for a noxious odor and the word MOLD was used to describe it… We got to the facility and began our interview of the occupants along with a visual and olfactory investigation.  The person that seemed the most agitated by the odor was quite adamant that it must be the air conditioning or something in the carpet, but that it was definitely strongest right in and around her space.  We did detect an odor there and upon asking her to move so we could look under her desk we proceeded to find a cucumber in a shopping bag that had been there long enough to become completely decomposed and did quite frankly smell to high heaven!!! You can imagine the embarrassment of the occupant that had made known to everyone her displeasure in working in 'these deplorable conditions.'"  

"In March a few years ago, I kept getting complaints of overwhelming paint smells in the hallway near two secretarial stations. No painting was going on. I did smell a faint odor of something but couldn’t place it. Naturally, the complaints escalated until it became something toxic and we were all going to die. I finally located the source. A partner in the area received a crate of oranges from a client for Christmas. As partners tend to do, he just left it in a corner of his office near a heating duct.  The oranges were starting to rot which caused the odor. Once the oranges were removed, so was the smell."

"I work in facilities and we got a call about an bad,bad,bad odor coming from an office floor nobody could figure out where the odor was coming from and it was getting worse as time went on we searched for the normal things, dead rodents, old trash, all HVAC units etc. to no avail. We finally starting checking cubicles, office spaces and as we got closer to the odor, I opened a desk draw and there it was in all its glory. An employee had left a piece of fruit in their desk over the weekend. I know, you're saying, 'A piece of fruit?' Well, it was durian which everyone knows has a terrible smell even when it’s fresh so you can imagine the smell of a rotten piece of durian setting in a desk all weekend. Of all my years, I’ve have never smelled anything so bad and that smell we be forever entrenched in the odor bank."  

I ate durian. Once. Frozen. To please a dear friend who is a foodie and wanted me to love it. I did not love it. I can't even begin to imagine it warm and starting to rot.

What are you facility occupant complaint stories? Feel free to share them in this forum or send me an email at

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