I recently got a SWAG catalog in the mail. Swag stands for “Stuff/Shit We All Get.” If you have a business you get solicitations from all sorts of swag companies who want to print you company name on just about anything for you to give away.
You have more than likely accumulated a lot of swag in your lifetime. Key chains, hats, cups, T-shirts, pens… I can say swag items have never got me to buy or support any company that I wasn’t already supporting.
Some companies hand out some really nice swag. Go into a doctor’s office and see all the swag the pharmaceutical companies dole out. You will see clocks, clipboards, boxes of tissues.
Hotels have swag, I always take the scratch pads, but I leave the pens, the conditioner and the shampoo. I will take the moisturizer if it smells nice. Red Lion Hotels have this lime and ginger stuff that smells really good.
My favorite piece of swag is an Air France pocket knife, which I can no longer take on planes. Another is a pencil that was made from recycled denim from the Portland Water Bureau. And no, I've never flown on Air France or been a customer of the Portland Water Bureau.
Some people can’t get enough swag. Some people go overboard and take everything that isn’t nailed down. I knew one woman who would take coasters from every bar we ever went to. She would take all the artificial sweeteners from the table. I had another friend whose grandmother loved swag, so she went out and collected stuff for a year. On her grandmother’s 80th birthday he present was a box full of all sorts of free stuff and samples and general swag. Her grand mother was delighted and spent the rest of the week filling her canisters, salt shakers and catsup bottles with all the free stuff.
I’ve become swag resistant. I can go to a conference or a convention and come away with nothing these days. I was recently at a thing put on by a vendor and they gave all the participants a very nice writing tablet and a stylish pen. As soon as I left the session I gave it to an obvious swag collector. It was nice but it was something I’d never use and it would eventually end up as land fill. I already have too many things I don’t and will never use. I still have swag from my childhood.
I’ve come to realize that I already have too many pens I don’t like or use. I’m real picky about my writing instruments. I don’t like hats or T-shirts that advertise anything. I will take home horse grooming products from horse expos from time to time. I like swag that can be used up and not the made in China plastic crap that you just throw away when you realize there is no use for it.
There is something in us that dictates we take all things that are offered for free, but we really should learn to resist. Don’t become imprisoned by swag. It will just fill your junk drawers.