I’ve lived on this earthly plain for 71 years now and never once have I seen anything close to the current corona virus debacle. Over the years, we’ve closed schools to allow flu viruses to abate. We’ve worried about various illnesses and thought we’d have to close, but much of this country from sea to shining sea is now shut down. The President, Vice-President, governors, and most elected officials are sincerely working to contain this illness, but we the people, what are we doing? We’re fighting over toilet paper.
Last Thursday, as I was leaving the house to go teach my early morning class, Larry called out that I might want to pick up some toilet paper. We had two rolls left.
“Sure,” I yelled, as I ran out the back door. “No problem.”
Boy was I ever wrong.
After class, I ran some errands in town and ducked into Walmart on my way home. Imagine my shock when I discovered the toilet paper aisle bare. I walked all up and down the aisle three times, checking behind paper towels and up top. Nothing. Maybe they’d rearranged the store. Stranger things have happened. As I started to leave, I happened to see a nine-roll pack that had fallen over on its side on the top shelf. If I weren’t tall, I’d never have seen it. I grabbed it and headed for check out.
As I hiked the two miles from the empty toilet paper aisle to the cashier up front, my mind started working frantically. Obviously, I knew about the corona virus. Who didn’t? But what on earth did toilet paper have to do with this virus? Had they discovered it to be a cure or a preventative for the dread virus? Why else would people buy every single roll except the one package I’d managed to find? And it wasn’t even Charmin, Larry’s pick. He’s picky about that particular necessity.
When I was waiting in the check-out line (somethings never change), I saw two ladies with buggies loaded with big packages of paper towels. Did I need to go back while they still had them in stock? Maybe these ladies knew something I didn’t. When it was finally my turn, I asked the cashier, “Why are people buying all the toilet paper?”
“They think they are going to be quarantined for a long time and will run out. That’s my guess,” she said, “but it’s about the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. People have been buying buggies stacked full of it. And now the run on paper towels has started. You want to go back and get some?”
“No, thanks,” I told her, “I can live without paper towels if need be. I spent my whole youth without them, and I do have a washing machine. I’d prefer not to live without toilet paper, but I could probably do that too if I had to.”
About that time, an elderly gentleman interrupted us to asked if they had any more TP in the back.
“No, sir. I’m afraid we’re out until a truck comes in. Sorry,” she replied.
Later that day, I stopped by Family Dollar to see if they had that particular item. On the way in, I heard a man at the checkout say, “I got the last three packages. I intend to save them for three weeks and then sell them on the street by the sheet. I’ll be rich in no time. This is an opportunity I’ve never had before, and I simply can’t pass it up.”
Facebook has been filled with toilet paper jokes. One man intends to trade his stash for a beach house.
As for me, I think we’ve all lost our minds. If we really do have to stay home self-quarantined for two weeks or more, I’m just a tad worried about the future of this great nation.