Yes. Toilet paper. I want to talk about it. We all know it’s important to wipe yourself and make sure you’re clean and blah blah blah… That’s not what I’m talking about. What if I told you that the importance of toilet paper is much more nuanced than that? For lack of a better phrase, it’s much deeper than that. Hold onto your butts because this is going to get dirty. Flush your expectations. A fourth pun. Anyway, let’s do this.
I guess I should start this off with where the idea came from. I’m a Case Manager at a homeless shelter. I work in an office with three men, three women, and two unisex bathrooms. There was a period of time where going into the restroom was a gamble, and not in the way you’re thinking. It was common to see a roll of toilet paper sitting on top of an almost used-up roll still inserted on the dispenser. The nearly used-up roll would still have a good amount left, so there was no need to even open a new roll. This left me befuddled.
Around this time we were attending trainings for Crisis Management and counseling tactics. As Case Managers, we receive regular trainings to aid our interactions with people. These trainings include reading actions or body language to help assess an individual’s personality and characteristics. So, I guess, kind of like a dad getting a new power tool for Christmas, I was looking for something to try using my new toy on.
I began to connect imaginary dots in an imaginary web in my imagination. Coupled with my proclivity for grossly overthinking, and a tenacity to prove hypotheses that are completely arbitrary and non sequitur, here is the resulting amalgamation of… let’s call them “findings.”
The first totally relevant thought I processed on the situation was: “Why?” Think of the mental gymnastics needed to use butt cleaner while holding it. That’s like using spilt milk to wet the mop you’d use to clean that spilt milk. When the toilet paper is on the roller, it unravels for you, so you don’t need to hold it. I mean, physics is involved, but it’s not rocket science. When you’re holding the crap tokens in your hand, you are contaminating the product with the same hands you’re currently putting up your own butt. Thus, holding the roll is not pragmatic.
It’s already pretty selfish to squat-and-go if you were the last one using the toilet. But leaving the roll there without putting it on the dispenser is the stuff the step-parents do in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. And I am fully aware of the defenses, like, “What if you were in a hurry?” or “If it’s so simple, why not just do it yourself?” To which I respond: stop being the bad guy from a Grimm fairy tale. You weren’t in such a hurry that you chose to stop mid-poop and just run out of the restroom. In fact, you make sure you have a clear schedule for the next few minutes before taking a dump.
Using the logic “It’d take up too much time,” it’s a certainty that you didn’t wash your hands, either. So now I have that thought in my head.
Being courteous and kind for people you potentially will never see/meet/know is part of being human.
As for why the next person shouldn’t need to do it themselves is simple: we have certain obligations that are unwritten and unspoken as fellow human beings. These include: chew with your lips closed; don’t fart in elevators; and (shoutout specifically to those in the retail industry) put the item back in its rightful spot and not hidden in the opposite hemisphere.
The common theme here is COURTESY. Being courteous and kind for people you potentially will never see/meet/know is part of being human. At least it should be. Making tomorrow better by acting nicer today. You know… hippie stuff.
If you were wondering, the real life story ends with me deducing the identity of the culprit and doing literally nothing because I’m actually sane. However, I am most definitely not sane enough to be done with this subject. I had an idea for a comedy article centered on the most un-thought-of ‘material’ to grace itself in position next to the porcelain throne.
I understand that this is a ridiculous premise; that’s not lost on me. With what’s coming out of my mouth I might want to consider eating some TP. And it deserves not to be thought of so obsessively. Most innocuous-yet-important things shouldn’t be thought of. Like hand soap (coincidentally another thing that, when not replaced in the bathroom, would incite a similar rant).
I believe, unfortunately, that modern times have shown us just how important something as seemingly insignificant as butt towels can be when faced with the uncertainty of a pandemic. People actually fought over one another and bought TP en masse. There was a time I was afraid of running short, which made going to the bathroom a brick-pooping experience in so many more ways than one.
Toilet paper has an almost special place in our society and our households. The least we can do for one another is to make the next visit to the stadium a little easier for the next person.
There is something that I’d like to put in the spotlight more than anything else I’ve said (and it’s probably a better title): the importance of courtesy. That is pretty important. Of course I’m not just talking about restocking the TP dispenser, no matter how much fun that was. Courtesy can be applied to every facet of our lives.
You’re not agreeing with anyone’s philosophy… You are simply making it easier for someone else to live their next moment more comfortably.
Take the extra few steps it takes to the garbage bin the next time you have the option of throwing something in the trash or just tossing it aside. Give someone a warm smile and nod “hello” to them when you see them walking down the street. If there is someone struggling to put something in their car, ask if they need help. Hold the door open for the people behind you walking in.
Each one of these examples takes literal seconds to perform, but can leave a lasting impact on the day for those affected by it. You may leave a long lasting impression, for that matter. You’re not agreeing with anyone’s philosophy, or becoming an ordained saint. You are simply making it easier for someone else to live their next moment more comfortably.
Thanks for sticking around for the poops and giggles.
What simple courtesy do you want to see more often in the people around you? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments!