Math Revised: A Minus and a Plus Make a … Plus

From the early school years we learned that multiplying or dividing negative and positive numbers results in negative numbers. Recently I witnessed a social interaction that proved that math rules do not always apply to outcomes with people instead of numbers.

A month ago I wasn’t participating in the NTS’s community project “Reeking Havoc Friday” because while in my spare time I periodically test 5-6 perfumes at once, to the office I can barely wear one. But since the idea itself was not foreign to me (unlike, for example, one of the previous projects – skanky perfumes), I still enjoyed reading what other people were doing that day.

When I came across a totally unexpected strange passive-aggressive comment:

In #confessyourunpopularopinion, I have to say that I hate perfume samples. I am a grown woman, not a child. I don’t need freebies in plastic vials like some cheap concert giveaway. And I’m certainly not going to pay 10 dollars just to try some fragrance. I either buy the bottle or pass. I have also never bought a perfume bottle from a sample. So, I must sadly miss out on these challenges, but instead, adore my full-size collection on my vanity.

… then level-headed Robin’s response:

There is nothing at all wrong with confessing unpopular opinions, but perhaps you could have found a way to say that you disliked samples without implying that the rest of us were children? Just a thought.

Anyway, to each his own! The majority of my bottles were purchased after trying a sample.

… and an even stranger rebuttal from the “offender”:

Yes, apologies for any offense. I was just expressing my frustration with this entire blog and should have chosen my words more carefully. It just seems to have more and more name dropping as free advertisements rather than essays, articles, and meditations on perfumes. It is a fun blog, no doubt, just not for me. Forgive my interloping.

… my knee-jerk reaction was to strike back. In my head I was constructing some sarcastic remark about sending rescue to the poor commenter who had obviously been chained to the computer with access limited to only the NST site… But since my office life not only prevents me from wearing loud perfumes but also urges me to spend most of the time actually working, I had to postpone the fight until later.


Rusty ready to jump


When I came back, I was amazed by the responses from other members! There was no hostility or combativeness, people were trying to engage that strange commenter – either joking (“Personally every time I sample first before jumping in to the cost of a full bottle, I congratulate myself on my maturity! :)”), or telling their stories (“I need to try something fully before I buy. I’m not a risk taker, I just can’t blind buy, no matter how much I think I’d like something. […] I wouldn’t have a fraction of my FBs without samples.”), or asking friendly questions (“What perfumes have you collected and like to wear?” and “Are you reeking havoc with your full size bottles?”). She never came back to respond, but it felt really good to see the kindness and high spirits of the group. It was totally unexpected and I’d even say unprecedented in my virtual life. I don’t want to say that Perfumeland is inhabited only by good-natured kind and considerate people – we probably all know examples of the opposite, – but there are such oases where you are more likely to come across that level of positivity that cannot be negated by random remarks of strangers.

A minus and a plus produced a plus – despite everything we learned in math classes. And it felt really good and positive. It is great to be a part of the environment that allows you to slow down, relax and smell the roses (or daisies, or great perfumes) and share your delight of doing that with others.


Rusty and Daisies


Images: my own


21 thoughts on “Math Revised: A Minus and a Plus Make a … Plus

  1. Oh yes, the inhabitants of Perfumeland are almost unnaturally kind and generous of spirit! There are rarely any nasty or spiteful comments on the blogs I follow and I love to see the support given to anyone mentioning they are going through a tough time; it seems that trolls have failed to infiltrate the perfume community and I hope that never changes. I remember seeing the comments above, being rather shocked and thinking myself how well the cranky person was treated.

    Rusty is looking particularly dashing right now. And well behaved …. a dear kittie of mine (who loved flowers!) once pushed over a vase of flowers during the night and we woke to find a ruined table …..


    • Well… We had our share of killed flowers and broken things ;) The trick now is to bring flowers out from the bedroom to where Rusty doesn’t have free access, put them somewhere with good lighting and then use all 30 seconds while Rusty is curious about a new thing in the room to take as many pictures of him as possible. After which he goes away and waits for it to be left unattended… Usually I’m good at not forgetting to take the vase back to the bedroom. But sometimes he manages to lull my attention :)

      I like both the support and that people keep their judgements to themselves, not trying to tell the person who complains that it was all their fault.


  2. The regulars on NST are unfailingly kind and supportive. I have seen similar comments in various places before. I always find them a little incredible- if you think reading a given blog is such a waste of time, why are you commenting? Anyway, I try to keep my mothers voice in my head at all times- If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it!


    • Yes, I’m always surprised by that type of comments as well. I can understand when one of the regular participants (be that blog, GB group or some forum) disagrees on the specific topic with somebody else’s opinion or statement and engages in a more intense than usually arguments. But when I see something like that comment that I cited, I always think about this xkcd comic strip.


  3. What a heartwarming post, and I love the way Robin parried the originally barbed comment. I have a huge admiration for her. But really, how could the practice of sampling as a preliminary step be childish??

    And that is a brilliant fierce face Rusty is making! Will you just look at his sabre teeth. ;)


    • I admire Robin and the community she’s built around her blog as well. As to the samples, I suspect that lady meant those random mainstream samples that are usually thrown in with mainstream purchases – I wouldn’t want those either ;) But I’m almost grateful to her: not only she allowed Robin and others teach me a valuable lesson how a non-confrontational reaction might lead to a better resolution overall, but also it inspired not one but two posts (the second one, more perfume-related, is coming soon).


  4. Good story! Yes, perfume lovers can be really nice people who can overlook snark. My reaction when I read that first comment was like Rusty’s big toothy snarl-lol. What???! But I would have ignored it ultimately. I’ve found it never pays to engage anyone on the internet. I have to deal with a lot of overly emotional and irrational people in my job and it just doesn’t pay to even try to reason with them. It never seems to end well. If they do go to personal insults, I just say, sorry, I won’t listen to that so I’m hanging up now or I’m blocking your email address. Thank goodness for lovely perfume people!


    • The ability to ignore such people is a valuable trait, I should practice it :) I realized that I felt better when I saw that friendly exchange than I would have, had they told her off.


  5. Rusty is such a ham. What were you showing him when he displayed his fangs of doom?

    A lot of perfume people seem to have cats and maybe that is what makes many more civil – the cat-owner effect, plus Robin, of course.

    And now, a Rusty doppelganger…but of course, Rusty is still the most handsome. You may want to turn your volume down before clicking on this. See :51 and 2:10ish


    • Believe it or not, but he wasn’t actually snarling – he was just “talking” to me but I caught him from that position on camera.
      I was considering Roomba just for this purpose but I’m not sure if Rusty is courageous enough to do that: he usually avoids any moving toys: we tried Sphero but he kept away from it.


  6. Always a good idea to restrain yourself online, especially when something really irritates you, no matter how justified. Classic pic of Rusty looking super-fierce. Personally, I can’t get enough samples and wish sales assistants would be more generous with these. Great post, Undina!


    • Probably, it’s a good idea period ;) but it’s hard to practice.
      I do not wear perfumes from samples, as a rule. But I can’t imagine not being able to try something that isn’t available in a big store next to where you live: I wouldn’t be buying those niche perfumes online just to try – so it means I wouldn’t have got probably half of my collection if it weren’t for samples.


  7. It’s lovely that other NST fans were able to join the discussion to show their support to the idea that samples are extremely useful. If it wasn’t for the samples I wouldn’t have been able to carry on with Chemist in the Bottle. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if brands just kept giving me full bottles for the sake of a blog review. But I know some bloggers that are treated by some brands in such way.

    Perfumeland is a great community and sometimes it just gets visited by a troll or other nasty creature. Happened to me once when someone who I thought was my online friend asked me to not read her blog anymore and not to comment and she made it into a big thing.
    Well, I’m glad it was this one and only time.

    PS. Rusty looks like a little devil with his fangs out and then he went to smell daisies :)


    • Think of how much time you saved not reading the blog where you weren’t welcome! ;))

      Since I do not do perfume reviews, usually I’m not offered even samples – let alone full bottles :) But I mastered the art of getting free samples at the stores (though when it’s not connected to a purchase, I can rarely get more than 2-3 at a time), finding rare free or not expensive samples offered online and exchanging samples with online friends. But if we all could write only about what we quickly sniffed at a store, it would have been boring reading, in my opinion.


      • Very true,

        Oh I know you don’t write reviews but you have so many lovely perfume-related stories to tell & that’s something that I’m missing. That’s why your blog is so great among the review based ones

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It is really nice to come across so much positivity in the face of negativity. This sounds lame now. :) But your post just made my day – to see there is good in the world and it appears at the strangest places and times.


    • I had to share with all of you since it actually made me feel better when it happened. I do not idealize Perfumeland but this community (not NTS specifically but in general) is one of the best that I’ve ever belonged to.
      It’s nice to see you, BTW.


  9. Pingback: Math Reaffirmed: Two “Minuses” Make a Plus: Floris Honey Oud – Undina's Looking Glass

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