The man who literally sniffed out the problems in NYC's subway

Originally published at:


It’s unfortunate that his nickname was “Smelly”.


Yes, the proper nomenclature likely should have been Smelling Kelly.

…and in diametrically opposed fashion to me - one childhood insult was to call me Smelly Kelly. After sinus surgery to remove some very difficult polyps, my sense of smell is now dramatically reduced. So…now I am Kelly Who Can’t Smell a Damn Thing.


DIY inventions. Are there any other kind?


Lol I knew a girl once called ‘Smelly Kelly’. For different reasons entirely.


He flushed a staining agent, uranine, down the toilet

Not quite what it sounds like. Yellow dye #8.


You know, I’ve smelled the NYC subway, and I can tell you exactly what the problem is. Broken public toilets.


The first thing they saw on leaving the lift was a long concrete wall with over fifty doors in it offering lavatory facilities for all of fifty major lifeforms. Nevertheless, like every car park in the Galaxy throughout the entire history of car parks, this car park smelt predominantly of impatience.


I’ve often wondered about turning my sense of smell into a lucrative professional service. I am able to smell so much that others don’t, and I didn’t realize this was unusual until I was older. Often fragrances are too distracting to me to perform my usual work (which requires a lot of concentration and freedom from sensory input). Last summer I could tell a forest fire smoke cloud was headed our way early enough to get the kids inside and shut all the doors and windows. I looked like a crazy person until several minutes later when everyone else could tell.

But usually it’s noticing and identifying specifically what I am smelling and who it is on. Bath and laundry products are usually the most repulsive to me. It evokes an amyglada fight-or-flight response in my brain in ways that traditional bad smells (cheesy poop!) can’t do. It’s one thing to feel grossed out, it’s quite another to have your heart rate increase and your armpits start dripping with sweat.



“There are eels in my hovercraft subway car.”
(Ok, the eels - and other fish - were actually in the station water system. Which is weird enough.)

Ugh, yeah. Those dryer sheets are the worst - I can tell when anyone in my neighborhood is running their dryer. If it’s an immediate neighbor, I can’t go outdoors or I’ll be sneezing and sickened. I can tell if someone is smoking a cigarette half-a-block or more away. In my case I’m not sure I can detect the right things - or have the right level of discernment - for it to be useful professionally. Also, I’m not sure I’d want to do so, given what they’d likely be having you smell…


I don’t know if i have a hyper sensitive sense of smell, but i do have problems with smells more than the average person. Perfumes, scented lotions and candles, etc are awful and give me migraines and give me a sense of repulsion. Even though the smells aren’t bad per se my body finds them offensive. My kryptonite is being at a mall and walking past a Path & Bodyworks or a shop that carries a lot of scented products.

Thankfully on a daily basis smells don’t bother me much


What they don’t tell you is that he said “elephants” 90% of the time…


Stinky job, but somebody has to do it.

whoever smelt it dealt it - Pythagorus


Beans? Brussel sprouts? Limburger cheese?

1 Like

And…it’s elephants all the way down (apropos of other threads I’ve read here today…sorry)


That doesn’t make any sense. We don’t have any public toilets so that smell was just people peeing on the floor.

That’s why most New Yorkers take their shoes off at the door when they get home.


I would love find out why the PATH stations smell the way they do.

Oh, that’s because there’s no trash cans in them so everything gets tossed on the tracks.

That, and people switch from water and frappuccinos to the Blood Of Youths to help hoover down meals on their way to a platform. Or that’s where taurine is farmed…