Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

So, I ordered 80 rolls of toilet paper online and finally received it. I ordered it because over the past two months there hasn't been any toilet paper in stock at the stores I shop at, that the only way you could get it was by waiting in a long line outside an hour before the store opened, and it would be sold out within a half an hour.

Well, it's ironic that now that I've got all this toilet paper it's suddenly becoming available again at the stores. You can now find a package of toilet paper sitting on the shelf at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and you won't see people fighting over it. Now instead there fighting over masks or social distancing, but that's another topic for another day.

It's in my nature to be prepared. It didn't take a pandemic for me to see the merits of stocking up, because I always have. I always keep a stock of canned goods and rice and beans and noodles and peanut butter and crackers and nuts and seeds and oatmeal and granola. Basically non-perishable foods that have a long shelf life. I always save for a rainy day, do everything in my power to not be in a situation of living check to check. The rule is you don't buy luxuries until you've saved x amount of money in the bank. It's so simple, and yet so impossibly difficult for some people.

Anyway, I don't regret ordering all this toilet paper, it's not a luxury, but a necessity, I got it for a fair price, and it's definitely going to be used. But the weird thing is I hadn't realized what a necessity toilet paper is until the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. I mean you use it everyday, but because of what it's used for its value seemed no higher than garbage. You use it once, and you throw it away. And yet, I can't imagine a day without it.

Did you ever in a million years imagine there would be a toilet paper shortage? It's crazy. I'm thinking to myself what in the world did people do in the past without it? I suppose you make do, you adapt, if people never used toilet paper before, I guess they didn't know what they were missing. It must have been a rough life. I mean I'm sure some people improvised better than others, kept clean with soap and water, but still without toilet paper there were probably a lot of stinky people walking around in shit stained pants.

You know I had romantic dreams of someday living off the grid, living in a log cabin, or tepee, or yurt, or cob house, something like that out in the middle of nowhere away from civilization, growing my own food and living off the land. But I never once gave any thought to what I would do for toilet paper. I mean I guess you can have it air dropped, like people do in remote areas of Alaska. Assuming they have a source of income, or savings they can tap into to replenish supplies, and have a huge cache of essentials, whatever you can't produce yourself, dropped off a few times a year, either by boat or helicopter or plane. But what happens when the supply chain is cut off, and the stores are not stocked? What then? Yeah, maybe if you're smart you've figured out a successful way of growing your own food, that you can manage long-term in that situation, but what about toilet paper? Is it possible to make your own toilet paper?

I never really thought about it before this. I mean you could use rags, or an improvised bidet, or simply bathing immediately after "doing your business". But realistically it seems like it would become a rather uncomfortable and messy affair over the long-term. I tried a portable bidet for number one, but can't imagine using it for number two, it just seems unsanitary, a risk of cross contamination, of feces ending up where it doesn't belong.

Anyway, I'm happy to have a good supply of toilet paper now, and seeing my supply threatened has taught me a valuable lesson of how dependent I am on the system, on the supply chain of civilization for producing essential items that I don't know how to produce myself and that would be uncomfortable to live without. Toilet paper is actually essential. Although it is possible to live without it, it would be an uncomfortable life to live.

It's not a luxury because its use supports good hygiene. Even if you use a bidet it is recommended to do a finishing wipe, and without toilet paper, you would probably use a wash cloth, and it would require deep cleaning. Handling feces stained rags is always a risky endeavor. Use soap, hot water, and diluted bleach, failure to do so, or any mishandling in the process could contribute to illness and disease. Using toilet paper simplifies the clean up, and I think is more sanitary for everyday use.

Toilet paper really is a necessity that I've taken for granted for a long time, and it took the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 for me to see that.

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