I must confess, historically, I have been a habitual high-volume user of toilet paper. I am not sure how I got the habit, but I did, and I have never been able to kick it.
And now we have the Corona Virus pandemic, and everyone recently panicked thinking if they got the fever and sore throat, they would somehow need toilet paper. Educators have been imploring us to increase STEM education in our schools for years, and now I know why.
Our household is down to our last four rolls of Charmin. I considered our one roll of Trump Toilet paper, given to us as a gift by a thoughtful relative, to be more a piece of untouchable conversational art, but now it has become our Last Line of Defense.
I have started rationing the Charmin squares now, like how a sailor lost at sea in a boat might ration out the remaining slices of beef jerky.
I thought I had a good rationing system going, but then discovered that my Life Partner with whom I dwell, had broken into the basement supply pantry a week before I started our rationing system and was now hoarding 3 rolls in her upstairs private bathroom. (Note: I used to share that same upstairs bathroom with her, but was sent to our basement days ago, ostensibly to promote “social distancing, and where I have been assigned the “basement bathroom” for my exclusive use).
So, we now are going it on our own, wipe-wise, and I have devised a very strict personal rationing system that has brought me to a baseline of 16 squares per “incident”. Of this I am quite humbled and proud. And yet I do carry some secret shame that I was, in my heyday pre-Coronavirus, using three times that much.
My fear is that this will still not be enough. I may need to cut that 16 squares per incident yet again by half if I am to make it through this shortfall.
So, like the mayor of New York calling upon other states for additional ventilators, I have been quietly calling upon my neighbors for acts of generosity toward their Most Vulnerable who dwells next door. Today, I plan to also hire a neighborhood youngster who is also stuck at home and seeking a more stable source of income while his school is on lock-down. His job: Use his Gen-Z skills to search the internet and call upon local Mom and Pop stores tucked away in the city and still open, to uncover a supply line. I will pay him handsomely for success and he knows it.
In all this, there is one potential silver lining . Our food supply may run out before the toilet paper; thus, the problem will resolve on its own.
And so, we sit and wait.
Greg Tuke teaches and travels internationally, working with university faculty in India, Indonesia and the MIddle East, sharing strategies for implementing international collaborations within course work. This blog chronicles key experiences and insights about those experiences. All opinions expressed are mine, and represent no other institutional affiliation.