My husband and I both have entire drawers of T-shirts we never wear. That’s because we’ve received T-shirts for every single event we’ve ever participated in. If we don’t get a T-shirt, we get a water bottle. And sometimes, we get both. I wear T-shirts to exercise in, but I don’t exercise that much, and when I do, I only wear one shirt.
We have a stack of address labels sent to us by organizations who think we’ll be so grateful that we’ll put one of those labels on an envelope, address it to them, and stick a check inside. We have so many address labels now that we’ll never be able to move.
We have a refrigerator covered in magnets given to us. The magnets, not the refrigerator. We bought that.
We have a closet full of miniature fleece blankets mailed to us by a nonprofit we donated to once. The nonprofit long ago used up our donation making and mailing us all of those blankets. They’d be perfect for baby blankets, but we don’t have a baby.
Well-meaning people keep giving us stuff. I’m all for free gifts, but honestly, I’d be happier with five dollar bills. They’re so much more practical.
We do get some things we need too. We just don't need quite so many of them. We have a collection of canvas bags that, like the T-shirts, advertise the fine businesses that gave them to us. We have piles of both the useful flat-bottom bags, which are good for grocery shopping, and the kind without the flat bottom that aren’t good for anything.
You may wonder why, if I have so many canvas bags, I also have an entire drawer full of plastic grocery bags. I’ll tell you why. Even a sturdy, flat-bottom canvas bag is only good for grocery shopping if you remember to bring it to the store.
That explains why I have 50-some plastic bags in a drawer and at least three stuck in the cottonwoods in my yard. At least I can use plastic bags as trash can liners—except for the ones stuck in my trees. I can’t use them for anything.
I can’t use the plastic bags I get at the drycleaners either. Every time I have dry cleaning done, I get a gigantic plastic bag and a new set of wire hangers. I have no use at all for giant plastic bags with holes in both ends. And, while we do use the hangers, we now have more hangers than we have clothes—partly because hangers never stop fitting.
We have enough plastic cups from convenience stores and fast food restaurants to host our entire neighborhood for iced tea. And if we ever do, we’ll let them keep the cups.
I have so many name badges and neck wallet lanyards from conferences I’ve attended that I’m thinking of hosting my own conference. I’m not sure what we’ll confer about yet, but I do know that all participants will get a lanyard, a water bottle and a T-shirt. Unfortunately, the shirts will all be different colors and they’ll only come in two sizes: mine and my husband’s.
But each attendee will get a nice goodie bag too; a plastic grocery bag containing a refrigerator magnet, a miniature fleece blanket and a stack of wire hangars.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)