Saturday, Wes, Josh and I walked into a courtroom in the Miami Criminal Court and all three of us winced and nearly puked.
We weren't there because of drugs, pulling a knife on a cop or vandalizing an overpass with a dirty, confusing rhyme.
Instead, we were there for a moot court competition, which is law school-speak for high school debate only with shorter rounds, bigger egos, and more expensive suits. "This place is a zoo during the day!" a judge told us, and I don't know if it was the ubiquitous wanted posters of unstable-looking maniacs or the signs that said "No guns, babies or beepers" outside every courtroom, but we believed him.
Zoo or no zoo, the courtrooms themselves were lovely, and we'd argued in several of them throughout the weekend. Tall, stained glass windows, enormous American flags, imposing wooden pews, majestic jury boxes, "We who labor here seek only truth" inscribed above the judge's seat. Catch the vision? Nice place, right? So why did we almost barf when we walked in?
It smelled like someone soaked a lavender-scented towel in a bathtub full of pure, undiluted All-A-Dollar air freshener and then tried to suffocate you with it. The cheap floral bargain-basement scent was the most disgusting and powerful thing I have EVER smelled. Ever. There were at least two of those automatic dispenser things stuck to the wall, emitting a consistent little "ZZZZT!", sprinkling the horrid wretch-inducing smell on the heads of unsuspecting jurors every 2-3 minutes.
I took my seat at the Respondent's table and quickly noticed two Glade plug-ins under the seat, and one of these tube-ish wonders to my right.
Gradually, we became accustomed to the odor in all of its overwhelming glory. We left the room while the judges deliberated, and when we walked back in I noticed four additional dollar store air fresheners by the jury box. Later that day, we returned to the Stinkhole to watch another team from our school advance (booyah!). Guess what a teammate discovered behind the last pew?
No less than a dozen of those cone air fresheners. A DOZEN. ON EACH SIDE. Meaning that without any concerted effort, just visible to the naked eye, there were at least... (two spritzies, two plug-ins, at least thirty plastic wonders) a billion air fresheners. In one courtroom.
What I'd like to know is simply this: Why? Obviously, some disgusting smell had permeated this room and some poor unwitting fool had worsened it by scattering cheap, overpowering gas station restroom doom to and fro. Was the carpet soiled? Had hundreds of pets pooped somewhere in this courtroom and then been buried beneath the floor? Had old vomit developed into mildew and been mixed with tuna?
If so, is getting thirty Vanilla & Crackwhore scented dollar store air fresheners really the solution?