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The Worst Gift I've Ever Received

A few years ago, I got a POOP sign for Christmas.

It is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a metal sheet in the shape and design of a STOP sign, but it says "POOP" instead.  It measures about 8 inches across.  It's lightweight, yet durable.  There isn't a hole for you to stick a nail through, but there are two peel-n-stick foam backers on the reverse side so you can mount it without any tools.

As far as signs go, I can find little to no fault with it.  This is a sturdy, well-crafted piece of merchandise.  That says "POOP" on it.

Let me be clear: I did not ask for a POOP sign.  I was not in need of a POOP sign.  In fact, I can think of precious few reasons or circumstances where a POOP sign would ever have any practical or comical value, and none of those apply to me.  But I was the recipient of a POOP sign nonetheless.  At age 30.

I won't say who got it for me, but I will say they were old enough to know better.  Even as far as gag gifts go.

You know that saying, "It's the thought that counts?"  Well, this is a case where it cuts both ways.  Consider the financial and emotional context of the last few years of my life; my wife and I have been reeling from medical debt and wrangling two small children while our house very slowly collapses around us.  Getting a gag gift at a time like that is kind of like somebody saying, "I could have bought you a tub of formula or helped you fix that hole in the roof or even just bought you some rum so you could unwind, but instead I got you a POOP sign.  Get it?  It says 'POOP.'"

But don't misunderstand me.  I bear no ill will toward the gift giver.  I hold no grudges and I'm not bitter about it.  It's just that now I have a POOP sign and I don't know what to do with it.

I could try selling it online, but that means I have to go to the expense of creating and/or monitoring a sales account of some sort, then packaging the sign and mailing it, for a return of what will probably only be two or three bucks if I'm lucky.  Good luck with that - there are times I can't even find the energy to mail in my bills.

I could try selling it in person at a flea market or something, but then that means I have to suffer the indignity of holding a POOP sign in public and asking somebody to give me legitimate currency for it.

I could try donating it - but then that leads me to the awkward hypocrisy of realizing that I just gave a charity a POOP sign instead of money or something that they could resell for any practical value.

I could try re-gifting it, but the few souls on this planet whom I could see getting any joy out of a POOP sign were all present when I received it.

I could try just dumping it in the garbage, but despite all my feelings above, that's wildly inappropriate.  I've never just thrown out a gift before.  That's bad karma, man.

So, for the last few years, I've held onto it.  I have a POOP sign sitting in the bottom of a bin in my closet.  It's mixed in with various other trinkets and generic housewares we've collected over the years as an emergency gift stockpile.  Each year when I pull out that bin, along with all our other Christmas decorations, I forget that it's there.  But then I open the lid, and boom - POOP.

I wonder sometimes what it would be like if Steph and I suddenly died tragically and somebody had to clean out our house to settle our estate and manage all our post-mortem affairs.  They'll drag out a lot of weird stuff.  They'll see the bad clothes I've hung onto.  They'll read all the shitty drafts of old novels that I gave up on and don't want anybody to read.  They'll judge my porn collection.  But the worst part of all will be when they find the POOP sign and say to themselves, "Well, clearly he thought this had value because he was holding onto it all this time."  Yup, a POOP sign will be there right alongside my photo albums as one of the few physical reminders that I existed in this world.

Happy holidays, everyone.