Content Warning: Mild foul language
The paper product aisle is a barren wasteland. All of it, desecrated by desperate, panicked consumers. Every square of toilet paper, every sheet of facial tissue, every quilted fiber of paper towel has been snatched up and hoarded by greedy, overreacting defecators. Even the vehicle interior polishing wipes have vanished from the shelves. The absurdity is unparalleled; now I’ll have to try another store.
I can think of no logical reason why there should be such a drought of toilet-tissue. The product has never had to vie for popularity or assert its usefulness. It remains seemingly unaffected by the ebb and flow of supply and demand, as all require it and absently consume it. There can be no explanation as to why everyone within a 20-mile radius suddenly requires thrice their standard portion of toilet paper. It’s simply baffling.
As a lifelong toilet paper consumer myself, I have spent years carefully logging my personal usage and have calculated the precise amount of paper necessary to keep on hand for a one-month supply. I do not hoard an indulgent excess, nor do I cut it so close that I’ll unexpectedly run out. My spreadsheet accounts for fluctuation in eating habits, water intake, and time in and away from the home. I don’t know why more people don’t adhere to some kind of tracking system or logging software; no one should be caught off-guard by the sudden need for a product they will never choose to stop using.
My last girlfriend informed me that my obsessive tracking habits made her uncomfortable, and she refused to participate in my cataloging efforts. I stopped asking how many squares she used after every trip to the restroom, and things were fine for a while, but she eventually caught on to the fact that I’d started numbering each square of toilet paper, and that was the end of it. I still think about her sometimes, but I just couldn’t continue living with someone who had no appreciation for accuracy.
My life is ordered now, and I leave nothing to conjecture. I buy my toilet paper on the last day of every month. I specifically and exclusively purchase Happy Bum’s ultra-soft, quilted, fresh-scented, two-ply, premium jumbo-pack toilet paper. No other paper will suffice, as it does not cooperate with my calculations, nor is it as delicate on my derriere.
Like much else in my life, buying toilet paper has become somewhat automated, and for years now the errand has proved relatively obstacle free—barring a rebelliously reluctant scanner, or the occasional chatty cashier who prolongs the process. I’ve been dealt the out-of-stock card a handful of times, but only at certain stores, and I’m always willing to drive to the next closest supermarket to obtain my brand. Until today, I have never been met with this level of resistance in acquiring my toilet paper.
I have driven to seven stores now, and no one is carrying my brand. In a moment of panic, I had considered settling for an inferior package of one-ply toilet paper available at store number five, but its flimsy quality and tiny rolls would have had me reworking my entire spreadsheet. I’d heard rumors that the gas station downtown still had my brand in supply, but when I stopped in, all they had left were bulk-sized rolls of economy paper with the texture of a Brillo pad. I respect myself too much to even allow it in my home.
Here at store number eight, it is much less crowded, less frenzied. I assume most self-respecting suburbanites have gone home to their families to watch the news and enlighten themselves on what to panic buy next. I just hope it isn’t mayonnaise or I’ll have to scrap my whole sandwich spreadsheet next.
I’ve sanitized my hands 31 times tonight, and now they are feeling a bit raw as I weave my shopping cart across the tiled floors, but I cannot risk sickness, especially if there isn’t a single scrap of sanitary tissue in this entire county. If I were to develop flu-like symptoms, I’d have to resort to blowing my nasal fluids into what, a dishtowel? To be thrown into my washing machine to contaminate a week’s worth of laundry? Never. I feel itchy at the thought; another pump of Purell can’t hurt.
As I near the paper products aisle, my heart races with expectation—and potential disappointment. Have the gluttonous excreters ravaged this establishment as well? Have the frenetic locusts already come in droves and picked the shelves clean? The front left wheel of my shopping cart is twisting and jerking sporadically, oblivious to the gravity of the situation. It announces my arrival with an echoing squeak as I turn onto the toilet paper aisle.
Fluorescent light flickers above me, casting uneven shadows across the barren shelves. But in the quivering dimness, my eyes detect the unmistakably cheery logo of Happy Bum’s ultra-soft, quilted, fresh-scented, two-ply, premium jumbo-pack toilet paper; there are two packages left.
My heart leaps in my chest; my search has finally ended! The cart jerks and shudders as I gain momentum toward the end of the aisle. I can almost feel the lush paper across my cheeks. Tears sting my eyes in sudden appreciation for this commodity I’ve so long taken for granted. I’m only paces away when a figure turns the corner—a hawk-eyed she-predator with the toilet paper locked in her sights. I begin to run.
The woman is donned in head-to-toe, color-coordinated athletic wear and looks like a stuffed sausage in a visually assaulting display of magenta spandex. She boasts a face of makeup that appears like it’s never encountered sweat, and she’s wearing a trash bag—a transparent, commercial sized, garbage bag with a giant breathing hole poked into the facial region. I’m momentarily distracted by the ludicrous illogicality of her safety precautions, but then I remember the toilet paper and abandon my cart altogether; I must get to the toilet paper.
Her fleshy arm collides with mine as we reach for the packages in tandem. The plastic wrapped rolls of toilet paper move in her direction as she pulls both packages forward and drops them into her cart.
“Excuse me, ma’am, I do believe one of those is mine. If you could just—"
The woman then has the audacity to lift a finger and shush me. Shush me! It seems she is in the middle of a phone call, and I am disturbing her very important conversation. She turns her cart and begins to wheel away.
With my toilet paper in her possession.
I’ve always considered myself a reasonable person—even tempered, civil, not prone to violence. But something within me begins to crack, like a tree branch bending under the weight of a large bird—a pink spandex wearing, disrespectful, fat, greedy bird who has just stolen my deluxe toilet paper and is about to fly away with it and take it back to her hoarder’s nest of paper products and waste it on the unappreciative members of her selfish little family of defecators.
Well, not today, bitch.