Reader mail: Toilet paper

Today I’m going to respond to some reader mail. I’d do this more often, but nobody ever sends me any anything. And so when I got this email today, I wasn’t going to ignore it. No, I want to encourage stuff like this, right? So here it goes. Julie wrote me:

OK so I think you should write a blog post about toilet paper. People seem to have a very strong preference for whether the toilet paper roll should be put in so that the paper is pulled from the top or the bottom. Random, I know.

Julie, thanks again for writing. I’m really interested by your email because, up until now, I’ve never even considered what you’re talking about. It’s always just there, the toilet paper, except when it’s out, obviously, but now that you mention it, yeah, I guess the paper does dispense itself from a particular direction.

toilet paper

And now that I’m thinking about it even more, things are starting to click, like I’m thinking about all of those times growing up when my mother would get really upset with all of us every time we, “put the toilet paper on the wrong way.” I don’t know why I never made the connection before.

Yeah, and, also, every once in a while, not always, but sometimes, I’d say like half the time, my wife comes up to me and she’s like, “Rob, what’s wrong with you? Why is this so difficult?” and, you know, statistically speaking, I’m bound to get it right half the time. And half the time I’m getting scolded for doing it the wrong way, but I’m not getting it, that there’s even a difference, so I guess nothing’s being reinforced, nothing other than, well, sometimes I’m just going to get yelled at about the toilet paper.

Because, yeah, sometimes I deserve to be yelled at about the toilet paper. I’m not trying to make the argument that I’m the perfect housemate, that I’m just this guy minding his own business, keeping his side of the street clean, every once in a while getting ambushed about the direction of the toilet paper.

No, a lot of the time I totally deserve it. Like, if there’s not really any left, and I’m upstairs, I know that I should go downstairs to where we keep the big package of toilet paper, I should go down and get a new one. Since I’m down there already, I might as well get two, you know, consolidate the trips downstairs. Right?

Right. But a lot of the time, even though my intentions are good, if there was enough toilet paper to satisfy my toilet paper needs, I’ll often get distracted before or during the act of going downstairs to get more. And again, why are we keeping all of our toilet paper so far from the toilet? I know the answer to that. It’s because there’s no room to keep all of the toilet paper in the bathroom. That’s the answer.

I’m constantly trying to insert a different answer into the conversation, like, well, let’s just keep it in the bathroom anyway, even though there’s no room for it. But there’s an answer for that too, it has something to do with adults not living that way, like you can’t just keep things out, like a giant bulk thing of toilet paper that you bought at the bulk store.

And then I would argue, well, why are we shopping at the bulk store? To save trips that we’d have to make to buy more toilet paper. It’s great. And it’s a great answer, at least I think so. Those super bulk packs of toilet paper, they last my wife and me like four months. That’s four months of never having to leave the house to buy toilet paper. Everybody can get behind that.

So by that same logic, I would then say, well, why only go ninety percent of the way? I’d like to not only save trips to the store, but I’d also like to save trips downstairs. If the overall goal is to cut down on time getting up to get toilet paper, then why shouldn’t we just keep that whole big thing of fifty plus rolls of toilet paper on the bathroom floor? It’s a bathroom. I don’t think it’s totally out of the ordinary to expect to find toilet paper in the bathroom. And again, I’m not an architect, sorry I don’t have a time machine to travel back to the past to convince the architects who built this two-bedroom to maybe build a closet, maybe a tiny closet, something that could fit a big bulk object, maybe like two feet by two feet.

But why am I wasting my breath? You don’t think I’ve gone through this, and many similarly convincing arguments, hundreds of times already? I just can’t win. The end result is always the same. And it’s like, whenever I take stock of my life, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m constantly walking up and down the stairs to either go get or to come back up with a roll (or two) of toilet paper.

Julie, I hope that answers your question. I was a little reluctant to get into the whole toilet paper subject, because the way my mind works, one thing often leads to another, and I didn’t want the conversation naturally steering toward, you know, like what do we use toilet paper for? Like poop and stuff. Ugh, gross. I just mentioned it. I just mentioned it in a half-assed attempt to congratulate myself for not mentioning it. I was so close.

Keep those emails coming!