Many people collect souvenirs when they travel. Some collect mugs; some collect decorative spoons; others collect artwork. I collect deodorant.
This has never been an intentional hobby of mine -- I've just historically been extremely bad at remembering to pack deodorant. And then I always forget about my extensive deodorant collection when I go to the store, so I buy new deodorant and don't use up the stuff I already own. My collection currently includes Arm & Hammer deodorant from a Cheyenne truck stop, Dove deodorant from a Denver drug store, and a Suave stick from a Southern California convenience store. The most unusual item in my collection, though, is one I picked up in the San Francisco airport.
It was during my harried second year of law school, with its incessant law firm interviews. On this particular interview trip, I had only an hour-an-half between my last class of the day and my flight, which gave me very little time to make it home from school, pack, take the bus to the Metro station, take the Metro to the airport, check in, get through security, and board the plane. I managed to make the flight, but I unsurprisingly ended up forgetting a few things, like deodorant and pajamas and a change of clothes for the next day. (You may be wondering whether I traveled to San Francisco with a completely empty suitcase. Be assured, I did bring toothpaste and a toothbrush, my scriptures and journal, and my interview suit and dress shoes. That may have been it, though.)
By the time I arrived at my hotel in San Francisco, it was too late to think of looking for a store. And there wasn't enough time the next morning either. I just hoped and prayed the law firm had good air conditioning.
The interview went as well as could be expected. That is to say, it was a horrible five hours of attempting to talk to people I didn't know about a job I wasn't convinced I wanted. The lack of deodorant wasn't an issue. What did end up being an issue was the meal at the end. Specifically, one of the attorneys decided that he wanted dessert, mostly because the law firm was paying for it, and he didn't care that I had a flight I needed to catch that afternoon. Dessert took a long time to arrive, and the attorney took a long time eating it. When we finally left the restaurant, one of the nicer attorneys called the firm to tell them to order me a cab. Unfortunately, the secretary called the slowest taxi in the world to take me to the airport.
About twenty minutes after I got back to the firm, the slowest taxi in the world finally showed up. I hurried inside and told the driver when my flight was leaving (probably about an hour and fifteen minutes from then). She calmly said, “Oh, you're probably not going to make it. You should have called earlier.” She then started gossiping about something boring that I wouldn't have cared about in the best of circumstances and certainly didn't want to hear when I wanted her to focus on her driving. A little while later, as we slowly puttered along in the right lane of the freeway, I asked her if we could possibly go a little faster. She tapped her long acrylic nails on the dashboard clock and said, “Oh, your flight is leaving in less than an hour now. You're definitely not going to make it. Why ask me to risk getting a speeding ticket when you won't catch your flight anyway?” She then switched back to boring me about something inconsequential.
We finally made it to the airport about forty minutes before departure time. This would have been sufficient to catch a flight in St. Louis. Unfortunately, the check-in line at this airport was relatively long, and I'm not one to cut in line even if I have an excuse. By the time I made it to the front of the line, it was 28 minutes before my flight, and that was too late for me to get checked in. Even more unfortunately, this was evidently the last eastbound flight for the next seven hours. I finally got rebooked on a red-eye flight to Chicago that was leaving after midnight, with a 9 am flight to St. Louis the next day.
At this point, I realized that the lack of deodorant might be a problem, especially since my clothing choices were limited to my uncomfortable interview suit and the rumpled clothing I'd traveled in the day before. While it's nice to have extra space at the airport, it's not so nice to have this space only because other travelers suspect that you may be a crazy street person who somehow wandered into the airport by mistake. I wandered the airport halls for a while, like the disreputable vagabond I appeared, before finally discovering a small airport shop that sold deodorant. However, the person who stocked this shop had apparently bought into some kind of gender stereotype about women being less forgetful than men. Or perhaps this individual was the same kind of person who believes that clothing can be "one size fits all," and he simply didn't realize that women who forget their deodorant might want an option without an overwhelmingly masculine smell. Either way, the only deodorant option in the entire airport was very manly smelling deodorant. Still, this was better than nothing, so I reluctantly purchased an overpriced stick of men's deodorant.
This led to a very disconcerting night. As I uncomfortably attempted to sleep on the hard airport seats, I would suddenly become aware of a very masculine scent that appeared to be coming from just behind me. I'd look behind me in search of the man who was evidently invading my personal space, only to realize that I was the man, figuratively speaking. It was better than being stinky, but it was still a very odd experience. Whenever I see my deodorant souvenirs, I remember my travel misfortunes of that day and night.
Maybe I should start collecting decorative spoons instead.