March 19th, 2014

When you travel a lot for work, as many of you know very well, you need have systems for economizing your stuff. You have to decide what’s really essential, what you can buy wherever you land, what’s maybe not entirely essential, but you’ve decided to prioritize anyway. Me, for example, I learned that using hotel shampoo, conditioner and soap don’t bother me at all, but my very own special lotion is non-negotiable.

Clothes are even trickier. It’s impossible, especially in winter, to pack, into one suitcase, a brand new outfit for every day in a week, and that’s not even taking into account that no one wants to wear the same clothes all night long that they’ve worn at work all day. So we try to figure out how to wear the same things in ways that fool people into thinking they’re different, creatively mixing and matching our way through the days.

What, though, if you’re deep into your mixing and matching routine and you spill something onto one of the key pieces, a t-shirt, say, that you were planning on wearing everyday for the rest of your trip? And, needless to say, there’s no time to find a laundromat. Well, my mother has a great little ploy that perhaps one or two of you might be able to get some use out of. If she spills something on an article of clothing that she was intending to wear for the next several days in a row, she’ll wear it with the stain, not doing anything to try to rinse it out or conceal it. Instead, every time she meets someone new, somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes into the meeting, she’ll look down and exclaim, “Oh, shoot, look what I just did!” She’ll spend a few moments fretting, just enough to seem genuinely surprised and dismayed, and then continue on comfortably in this situation she’s just created, where it’s ok to be wearing dirty clothes.

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