There’s a giraffe in my luggage


Standing at the international check in at Oliver Tambo International Airport you can always pick out the tourists going home.

They’re the ones with life-size wooden giraffes packed in brown paper towering over the luggage.

wooden-giraffeWhy on earth would you want to take something that unwieldy home as a souvenir?

Aside from which every house in all of London must have one by now.

It’s hardly going to set you apart from the neighbours.

It’s not just people coming here.

It’s when we go there, wherever there may be.

As soon as we go on holiday somewhere far far away we see stuff we have to have or we’ll always regret it.

Like not buying the life-size giraffe.

Over a cup of tea one of my best friends related her story to me.

She shall remain nameless, but we will call her S.

Statue-LibertyS and her Best Beloved went to New York.

They could have bought home a life-size Statue of Liberty.

They didn’t. Not quite.

They had rented an apartment. In the apartment was a cleaning appliance. Specifically a mop.

But not just any old mop.

It had a little canister on the front you fill with water and detergent that you can spray ahead of you as you clean the floor.

Of everything in NYC, S had to have one of these.

So, off she went, Best Beloved in tow.

Best Beloved has learned that sometimes it is easier to just go with the flow and not fight the unstoppable current that is S.

Rubbermaid-mopShe got her mop.

Sadly, on getting back to the apartment she realised it was a new model that came with a disposable canister.

This meant that as disposable canisters could not be purchased in sunny South Africa this model was a no go.

S would not be thwarted.

She simply left the new one, the better one, in the apartment and decided to take the original home with her.

Only, the original did not fold up nice and compactly like the new one.

S did not care. She taped it up in bin bags and heaved it off to the airport.

South African mop

South African mop

At check-in they regarded this bizarrely shaped item with some perplexity and sent it off to customs.

At customs three burly officials from the Bronx unwrapped it.

“Ma’am,” they said gently, “This is a mop.”

“Yes,” said S, “Obviously.”

“Ma’am,” they tried again, trying and failing not to laugh, “Do they not have mops where you’re from?”

“Not. Like. This. One.” S spat.

They quietly wrapped it up again.

S and Best Beloved went through this conversation at about three more airports on route home.

S did not care. She had her mop. All was well in her world.

A few days after returning home, Best Beloved went to the supermarket.

What people usually bring home

What people usually bring home

He phoned S.

“Darling, I am at the supermarket,” he said gently.

“I am aware of that,” said S.

“Yes, well, I am standing in front of a rack of mops,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Oh no!” said S, “Not MY mop?”


Not the ACTUAL fridge, but close.

“Yes, YOUR mop! The same mop you made me carry more than halfway across the damn world because YOU said we didn’t have them here. THAT mop.”

“Oh,” said S, “Sorry about that.”

Unlike the giraffe though, at least the mop is serviceable, although as a memento it is a bit out of the ordinary.

I wonder if she’ll magnetize the mop and add it to the collection of chips from Vegas, hotel key cards and other travel related stuff that she’s put on the fridge?


15 thoughts on “There’s a giraffe in my luggage

  1. Ha!! I am guilty of purchasing a giraffe. In my defense, I was 20 and it was my first time to Jamaica. I also bought a turtle. The giraffe has been hidden because my children were using it to beat each other. The turtle currently resides on the back of the toilet in the kids’ bathroom. I regret nothing! 😉

  2. Did you get a “Ginger Jimmy Hat” in Scotland? Tartan hat with fake ginger hair?

    🙂 tell me you did… if you want… x

  3. I used to do things like that—until I finally wised up and learned to buy ONLY things that you absolutely can’t get anywhere else on earth. And even then, you can probably still buy it online.

  4. This is very funny! I almost bought a little squidgy dishwasher sponge that can be refilled at the back with dish washing liquid in the uk once, and then saw them at PnP when I came back…so can totally relate!

    • I know those. At least they fit in your luggage. A friend asked me to bring his dumbbells back with me in my luggage. Not only did they weigh a tonne, but every x-ray machine thought they were landmines.

      • Haha! I think the weirdest thing I ever brought back from an overseas trip was an LP player, for my ex-boyfriend’s birthday. Of course you get them here,but it was so much cheaper in the uk. What a mission though!it was huge and I didn’t want to take it out of the box.
        When he left, he left behind the LP player, and I love it!

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