The ScamWOW

I confess I was at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day and I saw the box screaming at me to “buy, buy, buy the ShamWOW!” I mean, how could I resist when that geeky little guy on the front was telling me that “You’ll be saying WOW every time!”

I got the box home and stored a healthy amount in the kitchen and under the sink in the bathroom. The next time there was a leak I would be ready. As I was unpacking the box, proud of my contribution to house and home, I noticed a small piece of white paper that fell out. It read simply, “Do not place in the dryer.”


Why would I need to be so gentle to my ShamWOW products? It’s not as if they could break or anything like that. Then I noticed the tag: 100% Rayon.


I bought a sheet of rayon from Germany? I don’t think an American has felt this ripped off since we built the United Nations. I still thought there must be something to these things and that all I had to do was wait until my next big spill so that I could use these little beauties.

Sure enough, a few days later, we had a spill at the house. It wasn’t just any spill. I was brining chicken breasts to prepare on the grill and the brining juice poured out of the bag and all over the floor. I screamed in anguish. Then I rejoiced. I had a ShamWOW! I would be saying WOW in no time!

What a joke.

I wiped at the floor and counters with my new towel and found that everything was still soaking wet. The little sheets didn’t even pick up that much liquid. In the end, I ended up grabbing a bath towel and wiping down my kitchen with good old fashioned American cotton.

I felt so betrayed by the ShamWOW. Here I was an innocent bystander and I had been taken in. I thought they wanted to help and it turned out they were just out to make a quick buck and supply me with something I could have picked up at the fabric store for about 50 cents.

I was so angry.

Then I remembered all the times that I had made big promises to people. “Don’t worry! I’ll take care of it!” “No, really, I just want to help out!”

How many times had those situations ended with me just apologizing for not doing the job I was supposed to do as I moved on to the next thing that I thought was important? Certainly not what a saint is supposed to be doing at all.

I think I may have turned a corner in my life, and this may have to do with Easter, but I really truly want to help other people. Not that I didn’t before, but helping people was part of a few things that I did. Now I think that there is a great amount of joy that can be found in cleaning up the mess of others, of making something right, of making someone better than they are, of encouraging them to move beyond the ordinary, the every day.

In the end, isn’t that what we are supposed to do any way? We can’t make big promises and advertise all these great things that we are going to do if we are not going to deliver. What if we promised to do just one thing today? What if we promised to help other people in a way that we might not have in the past? What if we were more concerned about the success of the people around us than our own success? What if we only did things for the benefit of others rather than for ourselves?

If we can all help each other to become saints, to become better, to live each moment as our final moment on the journey to sainthood, well…

THEN you’d be saying “Wow!” every time.

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  • guitarmom

    Todd, I love your sentiments. We absolutely need to dedicate our lives to helping others. And we need to do it the right way.

    Which brings me to “the right way” to use a ShamWow. They have to be WET to work. Trust me on this, I own at least four sets. Some of them had to ge thrown away because I put them in the dryer. Hence the four sets.

    So — to carry your analogy further — your ShamWow experience can teach us that we all need to read the instructions: the back of the box for ShamWow, the Bible and the Catechism for life. If you don’t know what’s expected, you can expect things to turn out badly.

    So don’t give up on those ShamWows yet. Our Christmas tree fell over this year and two wet ShamWows sandwiched together, pressed appropriately to activate their capillary action, got all the water out of the carpet.

    But I had to follow directions. 🙂

  • Todd,

    This is an excellent reflection. I often find myself echoing the words of St. Paul feeling I do the things I don’t want to do but there are times in which I don’t do the things I ought to do – that’s where sin gets us as well. Too often we fail and disappoint others because we don’t live up to the expectations we ourselves put in place. I think its our desire to want to do all things for all people but in the end because we don’t recognize our own human limitations we end up disappointing others because we can’t live up to all that we’ve promised.

    Thanks for this article!

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