I have two souvenirs from my last two jobs that I basically thought were junk when I first got them.
The first was from an advisee I had. It was my first year in the private high school scene, and I wasn’t used to getting gifts from students. For Christmas, one of my ninth-grade advisees gave me a pair of foot duvets. My immediate thought was, “Gee, thanks. What the hell would I ever use these for?” I already had dreams of stashing them into the remotest corner of our apartment and not seeing them again until years later when I would throw them out. I’ve had them for seven years now, and I’m still using them. They come in really handy when it gets cold in our apartment and I don’t want to wear socks, or when we stay over at other people’s apartments that are a little bit on the chilly side. Who knew? I’d never even heard of a foot duvet before then.
My last job was a cubicle job (my first one). Since there was a lag time between my predecessor’s departure and my arrival, there was a lot of junk in that cubicle I had to clean out. Some things I reorganized. Some things I threw out, shredded, or recycled. A few things I kept. One of them was a Wells Fargo cooler bag. It was ugly as sin. But it was a cooler bag, and I thought, “Hey, this may get a couple of uses out of it. Or maybe I’ll throw it away later.” Again, years later, my wife and I are still using this thing to haul around refrigerables and cooked items (our hard-case cooler is too heavy sometimes). Maybe some day we’ll get a good-looking cooler bag. Until then, it’s Wells all the way.
Of course, we also had a ton of stuff we actually bought that we thought we’d always use but ended up being junk… stories for another time.