Post of the Week Created with Sketch. The Toilet Paper Diaries

 

Being a semi-fictional narrative of the Great Wipe-Out

I don’t recall when I first heard the rumors of a toilet paper shortage. Folks were going into stores and buying it all up. Pretty soon, if you wanted some, you had to go to a shady-looking fellow on a street corner, and say, “Hey man, you got any white?”

“White.” That was its street name. Or “Queen,” short for Quilted Northern.

Anyway, I was hearing about the shortage for about a week or two before I actually thought to go into a store and look for it. By then, too late. We still had some, but just a few rolls. We lived in a small house, so we didn’t stockpile much of anything. The next day, I looked online, to see if I could order a pallet of the stuff. No dice. I could have gotten one-ply, but I wasn’t that desperate. Not yet. So I ordered a case of 4000 “beverage napkins.” In other words, small, plain white napkins. Ordering a case of napkins for toilet paper. What had I become?

The case arrived in due time, but my wife had also found two enormous rolls of the good stuff, just hiding there at home, so we didn’t need the napkins just yet. We were pretty excited about my wife’s find. We wanted to invite some friends over, but we were too worried they might need to use the restroom, and they couldn’t leave their stocks of white unattended, anyway. Besides, there was that virus thing, so…

Thus the napkins remained in their box. About a week later, I had to make a business trip. Not that far away, but far enough to stay overnight. It was a nice enough room. Not five stars, but clean and comfortable. Nothing to write home about, except for one thing. On a small shelf in the bathroom, just sitting there in all its glory, like a priceless idol waiting to receive my worship, was a fresh roll of two-ply. And worship it I almost did. Eyeing it carefully, I tried to guess its weight. I took a plastic cup, wrapped in more plastic, from the bathroom sink, and filled it about half-full with water. Looking back at the Roll again, I added just a bit more. I stooped down, eye-level with the roll of white. Beads of sweat rolled down from beneath my battered fedora. I made the switch. I couldn’t tell you now how long I crouched there, the Roll in hand, waiting. If there was a giant, stone ball lying in wait for me, I’ll never know. Perhaps the cup of water had done the trick, or perhaps the hotel had failed to protect its precious loo roll. No matter. The prize was mine.

I returned home to find my wife had used the last of the white in my absence. As any man would have, I raised my hand to punish her for her carelessness. She cowered, begging for mercy, and suddenly I remembered the precious Jewel of the Ramada in my knapsack. Overcome with glee, my wrath faded away, and I brought forth the Roll, holding it aloft. We were saved.

The Roll lasted us until, wonder of wonders, I found toilet paper sitting seemingly unnoticed at my local Big Box Inc. Not on the shelf with all normal toilet paper, no. That shelf was picked clean. It lay all white and exposed, like the bone of a prey animal after the wolves have had their way. No, I found this paper on a shelf not far from the check-out aisle. There was a shelf full of gummy worms and chocolate bars, and just behind it, a shelf of camping supplies. Camping supplies like RV and marine toilet paper. The kind made to more easily disintegrate in mobile home septic tanks. Not the most desirable of toilet papers, but there it sat. Packages upon packages of it. As soon as I saw it, I stopped dead-still. Looking around, I saw no one waiting to brain me, as I approached the bait. No desperate diarrhea sufferers launching themselves at the precious white. No banks of arrows waiting to fire from hidden nooks in the walls. (I mean, come on. A store like this, the walls are football fields* away. No way I could have seen ‘em.)

No, this toilet paper just sat there. A few rolls had been purchased, but the mob seemed to have almost entirely missed it. It was mine! Mine! I seized it. Two packages! Eight whole rolls! All mine!

So, sure. It’s RV toilet paper. Not really the TP I’d choose, had I my druthers. But I think it’s pretty cool that, Johnny-come-lately though I may be, I have TP, and still have a case of napkins in reserve. We had enough to get us to the hotel roll, and that let us get through until I could find, quite by accident, some RV toilet paper. God really does care about the little things. I wish He’d take away the big problems, like microscopic critters invading our lungs, or crazy people buying all our toilet paper. But He has his reasons. And I have toilet paper.

*football fields – In olden times, when the toilet paper flowed like the waters of the great Mississippi River, men dared gather in opposing teams, coming well within six feet of one another, to play a game called football. Some say it was thrown and caught with the hands. Some say it was only kicked. And who knows who hath the right of it? But, whatever, the fields were 100 yards long is the point here. OK?


As I said, this is semi-fictional. The framework of this story is entirely true. Names of hotels have been changed, cuz why should I reveal any of my toilet paper sources to you weirdos?
No wives were beaten (or in fear of being beaten) in the making of this internet yarn.

Published in Humor
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 19 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. The Reticulator Member

    You’re not supposed to be touching your face these days.

    • #1
    • April 2, 2020, at 9:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    You’re not supposed to be touching your face these days.

    Its becoming a nervous reflex now – I almost cant stop it.

    • #2
    • April 2, 2020, at 9:39 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    The market has spoken: “Bidets-schmidets! WE LIKE TOILET PAPER!”

    • #3
    • April 3, 2020, at 9:16 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. tigerlily Member

     Fun post Joshua. Speaking of the TP shortage, according to this article it’s more due to there being two separate markets for toilet paper – commercial and consumer than to consumer hoarding. If this is so, hopefully, the TP producers will be able to adapt to current changed market very soon.

    • #4
    • April 3, 2020, at 9:19 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. James Lileks Contributor

    Charmin and Bounty, kid. Charmin and Bounty.

    • #5
    • April 3, 2020, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Full Size Tabby Member

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    Fun post Joshua. Speaking of the TP shortage, according to this article it’s more due to there being two separate markets for toilet paper – commercial and consumer than to consumer hoarding. If this is so, hopefully, the TP producers will be able to adapt to current changed market very soon.

    A few days ago the Wall Street Journal had a fascinating (well, to me anyway) article about the food distribution system adjusting to a time in which supermarket and retail dominate, and restaurant and commercial dry up. I particularly was struck by the comments of one of the large chicken meat producers noting that it would take a bit of time for them to convert their facilities that are set up to package chicken meat for restaurants and other large volume users to a set up in which they package chicken meat for distribution in retail store packaging (mostly smaller quantities per package, and different packaging). The point being, there’s plenty of stuff in the supply chain, but getting it into the right part of the supply chain may take some time and effort. 

    • #6
    • April 3, 2020, at 1:39 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Joshua Bissey Coolidge
    Joshua Bissey

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    Fun post Joshua. Speaking of the TP shortage, according to this article it’s more due to there being two separate markets for toilet paper – commercial and consumer than to consumer hoarding. If this is so, hopefully, the TP producers will be able to adapt to current changed market very soon.

    A few days ago the Wall Street Journal had a fascinating (well, to me anyway) article about the food distribution system adjusting to a time in which supermarket and retail dominate, and restaurant and commercial dry up. I particularly was struck by the comments of one of the large chicken meat producers noting that it would take a bit of time for them to convert their facilities that are set up to package chicken meat for restaurants and other large volume users to a set up in which they package chicken meat for distribution in retail store packaging (mostly smaller quantities per package, and different packaging). The point being, there’s plenty of stuff in the supply chain, but getting it into the right part of the supply chain may take some time and effort.

    I’ve heard about one of our local restaurants, and a restaurant supply house elsewhere, switching gears to just sell their ingredients directly to the public.

    As for the two-sided TP supply lines, I had been wondering about that. I presume a lot of the TP in our homes these days is coming from the shuttered businesses, institutions where we (used to) work or have access to. So far, my employer is still essential and open for business, and I have resisted the urge to loot my church’s supply closet.

    • #7
    • April 3, 2020, at 3:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    News quickly circulated today among the members of our church Sunday School class that one of the dollar stores in town had supplies of several brands of toilet paper. And that the “farmers market” had lots of eggs.

    • #8
    • April 3, 2020, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    News quickly circulated today among the members of our church Sunday School class that one of the dollar stores in town had supplies of several brands of toilet paper. And that the “farmers market” had lots of eggs.

    I wonder this is what it must have been like in the Soviet Union …

    I was surprised on my last trip to safeway – the toilet paper had been restocked, along with the eggs milk and OJ… although OJ was a lot more expensive – In the olden days, like in December, a 1.5L box thing of OJ would be a $1.29, but on sale for $.99 now the same item is on sale for $1.79 and reg $2.49…. In 3 months!

    • #9
    • April 3, 2020, at 6:27 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. kedavis Member

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    News quickly circulated today among the members of our church Sunday School class that one of the dollar stores in town had supplies of several brands of toilet paper. And that the “farmers market” had lots of eggs.

    I wonder this is what it must have been like in the Soviet Union …

    I was surprised on my last trip to safeway – the toilet paper had been restocked, along with the eggs milk and OJ… although OJ was a lot more expensive – In the olden days, like in December, a 1.5L box thing of OJ would be a $1.29, but on sale for $.99 now the same item is on sale for $1.79 and reg $2.49…. In 3 months!

    Well, grocery shopping at Safeway is a rookie mistake anyway. Even when they have things on sale, the prices are still often higher than every day at Walmart for the exact same thing. Also, you often find that Safeway – and other chains, including Kroger – has the same brand, but a smaller package, AND a HIGHER price. The packaging looks the same, only the amount that you get is different. The most recent examples I can think of, are 13 lb cat food at Kroger for $12 when a 16 lb bag of the same brand at Walmart is $10; and 20 lb Tidy Cats cat litter at Kroger for I think $10, while at Walmart you get 25 lbs for $9. Again, the container look the same, just holds more.

    One of my neighbors used to shop exclusively at Kroger because he thought getting “points” toward lower gas price for his car, was important. But then I showed him that he could save SEVERAL TIMES as much as he was saving on gas, by just buying the same items at Walmart. For example, if he spent $100 at Kroger, he could save 10 cents/gallon, which meant about $1.50 at his next fill-up. But just buying Litl Smokies “sausage links” at Walmart instead of Kroger, saved him $2.

    • #10
    • April 4, 2020, at 3:12 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. kedavis Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Charmin and Bounty, kid. Charmin and Bounty.

    I’m the only like? Wow, aren’t other people getting that reference?

    Hit it, Short-Round!

    • #11
    • April 4, 2020, at 3:19 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. kedavis Member

    Oh, and Safeway often has ridiculous limits on sales. Like, maybe Campbell’s Chunky Soup is on sale for $1.59, but the limit is 2. No real reason to bother. Especially since that might still be higher than the everyday price at Walmart.

    • #12
    • April 4, 2020, at 3:22 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Full Size Tabby Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Oh, and Safeway often has ridiculous limits on sales. Like, maybe Campbell’s Chunky Soup is on sale for $1.59, but the limit is 2. No real reason to bother. Especially since that might still be higher than the everyday price at Walmart.

    On the subject of quantity limits: I found amusing that for a while our local Albertson’s limited shoppers to one cheese product per trip (I don’t know why; cheese didn’t seem to be in exceptionally short supply; but that was the limit posted). Nonetheless, they left up shelf signage advertising a promotional price of “2 for $5.00.” The “fine print” on the shelf signage did say that the price of one was $2.50, so there was no actual price advantage to buying two, but I was amused that the shelf signage was promoting the price of two while the store was limiting purchases to one. 

    • #13
    • April 4, 2020, at 6:16 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Well, grocery shopping at Safeway is a rookie mistake anyway. Even when they have things on sale, the prices are still often higher than every day at Walmart for the exact same thing. Also, you often find that Safeway – and other chains, including Kroger – has the same brand, but a smaller package, AND a HIGHER price. The packaging looks the same, only the amount that you get is different. The most recent examples I can think of, are 13 lb cat food at Kroger for $12 when a 16 lb bag of the same brand at Walmart is $10; and 20 lb Tidy Cats cat litter at Kroger for I think $10, while at Walmart you get 25 lbs for $9. Again, the container look the same, just holds more.

    One of my neighbors used to shop exclusively at Kroger because he thought getting “points” toward lower gas price for his car, was important. But then I showed him that he could save SEVERAL TIMES as much as he was saving on gas, by just buying the same items at Walmart. For example, if he spent $100 at Kroger, he could save 10 cents/gallon, which meant about $1.50 at his next fill-up. But just buying Litl Smokies “sausage links” at Walmart instead of Kroger, saved him $2.

    I wont go into a Walmart – its too peopley. Safeway is owned by sobeys here. There is no Kroger.

    • #14
    • April 4, 2020, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Peter Gøthgen Member
    Peter GøthgenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Oh, and Safeway often has ridiculous limits on sales. Like, maybe Campbell’s Chunky Soup is on sale for $1.59, but the limit is 2. No real reason to bother. Especially since that might still be higher than the everyday price at Walmart.

    My favorite part about the purchase limits is that it flies in the face of attempts to minimize trips by buying enough to last a while.

    • #15
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:19 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    I hate the buying limits! This is great article. Thanks!

    • #16
    • April 6, 2020, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Charlotte Member
    CharlotteJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    What a funny, well-written post! Thanks, I enjoyed it. The gif is perfect.

    (I admit to borrowing a couple of canisters of Lysol wipes from my closed workplace. I shall absolutely replace them once we reopen. Promise.)

    • #17
    • April 6, 2020, at 12:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. kedavis Member

    Peter Gøthgen (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Oh, and Safeway often has ridiculous limits on sales. Like, maybe Campbell’s Chunky Soup is on sale for $1.59, but the limit is 2. No real reason to bother. Especially since that might still be higher than the everyday price at Walmart.

    My favorite part about the purchase limits is that it flies in the face of attempts to minimize trips by buying enough to last a while.

    One of the money-saving strategies that I still have trouble getting friends/relatives/neighbors to accept, is that they’ll see something on sale, and go “Wow, great! I’ll buy TWO!” Which plays right into the hands of places like Safeway, but it doesn’t really help save money.

    When Chunky Soup, using that example again, is on sale for maybe 99 cents (not so much lately, but it does still happen; also Progresso) I don’t get TWO. I get TWENTY. Or maybe THIRTY. (Different flavors, of course.) One important goal is getting enough to last until the next good sale. Especially things that don’t go bad quickly.

    They complain “But I can’t afford that!” It takes a bit of planning and getting into a cycle, but once there you can eat better AND save money. You also have things on hand, and don’t end up like some people do, making a store trip just for one thing they need, or have a craving for, or whatever.

    I have FIFO (First In, First Out) storage arrangements for soup and other canned items. The latest-purchased go in at the top, and you use from the older purchases coming out at the bottom. So unlike when people just stack stuff up and might lose track of what is new and what is old, you end up keeping a good rotation.

    Now, I do have one friend that if he gets a stockpile of soup like that, he might just open, heat, and eat cans of soup, day and night, until they’re gone. But that’s rare.

    • #18
    • April 10, 2020, at 7:34 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. kedavis Member

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Well, grocery shopping at Safeway is a rookie mistake anyway. Even when they have things on sale, the prices are still often higher than every day at Walmart for the exact same thing. Also, you often find that Safeway – and other chains, including Kroger – has the same brand, but a smaller package, AND a HIGHER price. The packaging looks the same, only the amount that you get is different. The most recent examples I can think of, are 13 lb cat food at Kroger for $12 when a 16 lb bag of the same brand at Walmart is $10; and 20 lb Tidy Cats cat litter at Kroger for I think $10, while at Walmart you get 25 lbs for $9. Again, the container look the same, just holds more.

    One of my neighbors used to shop exclusively at Kroger because he thought getting “points” toward lower gas price for his car, was important. But then I showed him that he could save SEVERAL TIMES as much as he was saving on gas, by just buying the same items at Walmart. For example, if he spent $100 at Kroger, he could save 10 cents/gallon, which meant about $1.50 at his next fill-up. But just buying Litl Smokies “sausage links” at Walmart instead of Kroger, saved him $2.

    I wont go into a Walmart – its too peopley. Safeway is owned by sobeys here. There is no Kroger.

    Safeway is happy to charge you more for the same things. Or even LESS of the same things.

    By the way, as mentioned before, my overall strategy means you go shopping less often. Maybe that would balance out for you?

    • #19
    • April 10, 2020, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • Like