Welcome to the new world of COVID-19, and all that it has to offer. Like you, when the new decade of 2020 began, I did not foresee what was about to become (my new least favorite and way overused phrase) “the new normal.” I never envisioned a world of face masks, gloves, and of course having to “social distance” everywhere I went. And like most of you, I had no clue that the “Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020” that hit the US, was coming! No, I was “blind-sided” by the empty shelves of Charmin, the search for packages of “Quilted Northern” that had gone south, the hellish and hard truth of missing rolls of “Angel Soft”, and the multipacks of “Scott”… that was sadly NOT. We are now a few months in on the whole COVID situation that has gripped the entire world. And to this day, I still fail to understand the panic and why people became so desperate as to buy up all the toilet paper? I can see shortages in protective equipment like; gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and the like…but toilet paper? Now, don’t get me wrong. Obviously I understand the need for it, I certainly value the necessity of it, but am I missing something? Is toilet paper the new “Swiss Army Knife” of the world that has somehow eluded me? Is the most important thing to have in an emergency really toilet paper? Are you better prepared for disaster if you have rolls of toilet paper rather than say… duct tape? Hmmm, I don’t remember any episodes of MacGyver where toilet paper helped him escape from a dangerous situation, or even helped him defuse a bomb. In fact, a little research online, we find that toilet paper wasn’t even in everyday use until around 1857! How humanity ever managed to live without it until 1857, leaves my head spinning, quite frankly, like a roll of toilet paper that was pulled on just a little too hard.
Now it seems to me that people have always figured out a way to survive. We survived the horrors of wars, famines, economic depressions, the NEW Coke, the Kardashians and even global pandemics like the current COVID-19 virus, which we shall ultimately get past as well. Still, I have yet to read anywhere in the history books, or see in any documentary all the people that have attributed their survival to the glorious rolls of pillowy softness that we can seemingly no longer live or survive a pandemic without. And no longer can we live without it, we apparently have to have cases and pallets of “mega packs” of it stored in our closets, car trunks, and garages. We need it so badly, that people began hoarding it, and reselling it for incredible almost “gold like” prices. If you watched the news, we even saw fights break out at stores both big and small between the t.p. haves and have nots! There was even one story I read where someone actually stole a truck filled with 18,000 pounds of it! No, not a stolen truck filled with money, expensive artwork, not even booze, cigarettes or big screen TVs, but filled with the once overlooked and never to be taken for granted again, rolls of toilet paper!
One day history will look back on this period of our society, and I am almost too afraid to try and guess what will be written about us. How we behaved, how we managed, how we struggled within our day to day world of, searching, finding, buying and even stealing rolls of the once humble toilet paper. Or as the radio journalist Herb Morrison famously exclaimed during another great American disaster in history, the crash of the Hindenberg…”OH THE HUMANITY!”
Maybe in the future books will be written, songs sung, parades given and even movies made, all about our fight for survival during these dark days of what will ultimately be known simply as… “the shortage.” Heck, with enough of a push, maybe we could even get Congress to create a national holiday after “our long national t.p. nightmare is over?”
OK sure, perhaps it all sounds a little stupid and ridiculous. But personally, I think the whole idea of stealing, hording and the subsequent shortage of toilet paper in our so-called “modern world,” by a supposed “enlightened society” living in the year 2020, was pretty stupid and ridiculous to begin with. But maybe that’s just me.
So, be well and “stay strong”…like 2 ply toilet paper strong, and we will eventually get through it one way or another.
Thank you for reading, and I will see you in the groves.