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Stuff we all get

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 05/04) - It seems these days that no event is complete without the SWAG factor.

And what is SWAG, you might ask? It's short for the "stuff we all get." For those who have lived in the territory any amount of time, the souvenirs of SWAG slowly yet steadily pile up.

At my place, SWAG can be found on the coat rack in the form of hats -- generally distributed to mark notable events like Bryan Trottier coming to town.

In my kitchen, they take the shape of coffee mugs. For the most part though, SWAG can be found in my junk drawer.

Though some of the SWAG is useful, such as the coffee mugs and pens, one has to question the utility of a Mackenzie Gas Project happy face that crawls down walls. Sure, it could keep the kids occupied for all of about 10 minutes until the lure of their video games return, and then what are you left with?

That's right, more crap for the junk drawer. And in it goes, joining the dozen-or-so key chains, commemorative pins and the classic rubber pen -- more gas project SWAG -- that can bend into all kinds of interesting shapes. Again, perhaps momentary fun for the kids, but a recipe for writers' cramp.

In Inuvik, your chances of a SWAG encounter are pretty good. But for connoisseurs of SWAG, the Petroleum Show is the promised land as visiting companies brand anything not nailed down with their logo and pass it out at all opportunities. Thankfully, the next petroleum show is months away, which gives everybody a chance to clean out their homes to make way for the next batch of SWAG. But there is an alternative to the madness. Just say no to SWAG.

That's right. Refuse your ration of SWAG at the next function where it rears its ugly head and save yourself from that monumental task of eventually collecting it all up from the nooks and crannies of your living or working spaces and tossing it in the garbage.

If enough people take this stance against SWAG, perhaps we can wipe this scourge from the region for good. Or, at the very least, force the SWAG perpetuators to come up with more enticing -- and useful -- items.

In the meantime, tables of untouched SWAG will leave organizers scratching their heads.

"Why didn't anybody want our pens with the sunglasses and rubber afros?"

Beats me.