Don’t forget the soap
Shortly after I started working for Citi, I began traveling frequently. This meant early mornings, long flights, time differences and jet lag, but it also meant fancy corporate dinners, 5-star hotels, airport lounges and business class. I knew I was starting to get used to all the perks when I stopped taking the extra soap and shampoo bottles from my hotel room. It had become second nature for me to do a morning sweep of the bathroom toiletries before leaving each day to ensure my supply was replenished when the room was made. By the time check out day came, I was about ready to start my own mini mart. When I got home I’d put them aside in a shopping bag and before I knew it they’d be packed away in a balikbayan box that our family would send back to the Philippines.
During my assignment in Brazil, I lived in the Marriott Executive Apartments so I hit the jackpot in soap and shampoo bottles. After the first few weeks, however, I couldn’t be bothered to save the soap and shampoo anymore. Then my family came to visit for Christmas. I was happy and excited to show them Sao Paulo— where I lived, where I worked and what I did. We had a blast and they were thrilled to see what my life was like in this new city. But I’ll always remember my mother’s tone of disbelief when she realized I hadn’t been putting aside the soap and shampoo for us to send to the Philippines (“Not even just once a week?”)
At first I thought it was a lot of fuss over a little soap but very soon I came to realize it wasn’t just about the toiletries. It was about thinking of others. Mini bottles of shampoos and body wash may have become customary for me but my mother reminded me that they were still a treat for others. When she gave the “fancy” soap to people back home she would wrap them beautifully in tissue and ribbon usually alongside another pasalubong, and they would feel special and remembered.
I ended up incorporating a once-a-week-putting-away-the-soap routine into my New Year’s resolutions. My mother would end each conversation with, “Don’t forget the soap!” It turned into a standard family reminder right up there with, “Get enough rest” and “Remember to pray.” Putting away the soap once a week served as a good reminder not to take anything for granted no matter how big or small. No matter how busy or caught up I would get.
(The excerpt above is a chapter from “Don’t Forget the Soap” by Lim Moore.)
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