My husband is in China on a business trip right now. He travels a lot for his job, and if he’s going somewhere overseas, they usually fly him business class. This time, however, he got to fly first class. He also found out that he had been upgraded to a suite at the fancy W Hotel where he would be staying.
“TAKE PICTURES,” I demanded, wanting to revel in the luxury, even if it was only secondhand.
And so he did. He sent me pictures of the menu in first class that had the complimentary Dom Perignon and fine French wine on the menu, the Bulgari lotion in the toiletry case, his “seat” that looked like his own little work cubby/entertainment center with a chair that fully reclined, and the little built in shelf just for his shoes. When he arrived at the hotel he sent me pics of his suite, which included a media room, two bathrooms, a living room, a huge bedroom, an espresso machine, and a dining room. One of texts even said “OMFG heated toilet seats. LOL. I love it.” I was equally full of delight and envy for all that posh treatment, and wished I could be there with him.
And then, just below all those pics, was a text that said, “Downside is that my bag got drenched by urine. So gross. I have nothing to wear and a lot got destroyed.”
That stopped me cold, and started a thousand questions. Why would someone urinate on his bag? And was it a someone, or an animal? Had his bag been kept near a kenneled dog with really good aim? Or maybe it didn’t happen on the plane, maybe someone aggressively peed on his bag as he was walking into the hotel. Or wait a minute, did HE piss on his own bag? Was he drunk? Were hookers involved? WHAT WAS GOING ON????
It took me about three days to finally be able to get some answers – both of us were busy and he kept trying to call but couldn’t get a clear enough signal to even leave a message. But finally we were able to talk and I got the story – it did happen on the plane, and his suitcase had been soaked with “waste water” from the lavatories. WASTE WATER. As in HUMAN waste. From MULTIPLE humans. I almost threw up just thinking about it.
“THROW EVERYTHING AWAY,” I screeched, horrified. “DON’T KEEP A SINGLE THING! YOU WILL GET SOME WEIRD HORRIBLE DISEASE! AND THEN YOU WILL GIVE IT TO ME! AND STELLA! DO NOT BRING THAT BAG OR ANYTHING IN IT BACK INTO OUR HOUSE! I MEAN IT!!!”
He tried to calm me down and reassured me that he had only been wearing stuff he’d had in his carry-on bag, and had even bought some new clothes and shoes to get by in the meantime. He said he was a little sad about a couple of the things that had been contaminated, since they were things he really liked and probably couldn’t replace since he’d gotten them a couple of years ago. I vehemently repeated that no matter how much he liked them, they were not worth getting some freaky awful strain of bizarre illness, and he should throw them out because it was probably not possible to ever fully decontaminate them. I think he agreed, but I don’t know for sure because our connection was cut off. I can only hope he will not bring any of that stuff back home.
After we were disconnected, and I had a minute to calm down, I thought about what I would have done in the same situation. Would I be able to throw everything out? Clearly, of the two of us, I am the one with the “stuff” issue, not him. If a bunch of my favorite shoes and clothing items were contaminated, would I be able to just toss them out and start over?
I remembered when I was in the first grade, I was walking on the playground at school, wearing a really pretty, expensive knit dress my aunt had sent me.. It had been raining all week, and there was a huge bark dust puddle – more like a small pond, really – that I was walking by, when some rowdy boys crashed into me and knocked me into it. I was soaking wet and covered in dirt and a million bark dust splinters, that were especially uncomfortable when they seeped into my navy wool knee socks. The school tried to call my mom to come get me, but this was before cell phones and we didn’t have an answering machine, so I had to wait the day out in my wet, dirty, splintery clothes. I kept pushing my socks down to my ankles to relieve the cold, prickly, wet wool on my legs, and for some reason, my teacher kept coming by and pulling them back up again. Maybe she thought they would dry better that way. I’ll never know.
My mom was able to thoroughly clean everything, but I never wore that dress again. I called it my “bad luck dress” and hid it in my closet behind my big pink Barbie carrying case until I was sure I’d outgrown it. As the years went by, and I had other especially crappy experiences in certain outfits, no matter how loved or expensive they were, I also deemed them “bad luck” items and they met the same fate of being banished behind the Barbie box and ultimately given away.
So to that end, YES, I think I would probably be unable to wear any item that I knew had been covered in the human waste of a plane full of strangers. I mean, talk about a “bad luck” outfit. I’m not going to say I’d ever wish that experience on myself, but it would certainly speed up the decluttering process.