Sea Foam: Confessions of a hotel soap junky

Thanks to Michael McNally of Callawassie Island for sharing a humorous story about ... soap.

"(Beaufort Gazette reporter) Kate Cerve's (recent) article about the Global Soap Project was both interesting and commendable," Michael writes. "What a terrific idea to recycle this here-to-now wasted product for the needy.

"The article did, however, inspire me to root through my files for an article I wrote several years ago. It tickled my funny bone then, and may do so for your readers."


By Michael McNally

I must have inherited some sort of Great Depression genes from my parents. When I travel I have this uncontrollable, instinctive urge to collect bars of soap from hotels.

Bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotions in all shapes, colors and aromas also come into my grasp and get wrapped securely in underwear and stuffed into the corners of my luggage.

My stockpile of soap in particular, I must admit, is getting out of hand. This collection of what I psychologically consider "items I have paid for" has in all honesty become addictive. I just can't say NO to soap ... or any of those other goodies.

As any decent addiction, it grows with time. And, yes, it's a progressive disease.

When staying in a hotel for a few days, I develop and utilize proven ways to maximize my haul. Knowing the frequency of the maid service helps. Immediately upon arriving, I put all the soaps and other collectibles in the luggage. Housekeepers will replace them on their first visit.

When staying at a hotel with evening turndown service, always clean the vanity and shower of any new replenishments before leaving for dinner. It's surprising how the collection grows.

Once, while attending a convention at Bally's in Atlantic City, an unsuspecting housekeeper left her supply cart in front of my room for most of the day. This was like having an unattended Brink's truck parked in my driveway. After a few trips back and forth from my room to meetings I had amassed nearly a year's supply of those beautiful Bally Boxes, all neatly stacked in my suitcase, under the underwear. Such a secure feeling, like little gold bars. My God, I am a thief -- but I am rich!

There came a point when my wife said, "You know, I'm going to give away all that soap you've been collecting to Save our Sisters."


"Yes, that's right, we're not able to use it up fast enough and it's starting to take up too much room in the linen closet."

She is right. The treasure trove is enormous. But possibly it could be saved by adding more storage space, or a new wing to the house. They do that at the Smithsonian, don't they? They just don't give their stuff away when things get a bit crowded.

"Let me ask you about this Save our Sisters group," I said. "Is it an organization, and why do they need soap?"

"It's an organization to help women without shelter, and yes, they need soap, too."

I started to feel very guilty.

Maybe my habit is so addictive that I need a 12-step program.

"My name is Mike, and I'm a soap junky."