It could be said that the most significant story coming out of the weekend wasn’t the number of people tested for COVID-19, but that Procter & Gamble’s largest toilet paper factory now has government clearance to stay open. With special dispensation from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, the Charmin factory in Mehoopany, PA, will be rolling out the rolls en masse.
As a nation, we might be fearful and have nothing to do, but at least we can look forward to the only thing that matters: having a dry derriere. In the meantime, scoring a package of this increasingly coveted commodity is a rather demoralizing quest. It didn’t matter so much a week ago, when most homes had TP reserves, but as those precious rolls began to dwindle, Americans who didn’t panic and hoard went out for their weekend shopping only to find themselves up a creek (no need for an adjective there). The grim reality is that non-hoarders are now being penalized.
American retailers are now enacting martial law on bathroom tissue. A week or two ago, when customers were walking out with ten packs of 48 rolls, nothing was said, and the hoarding went viral. Now all those folks who didn’t flock to the paper products aisle are finding themselves in a bind. Better late than never? That would be an emphatic no.
Only One Pack Per Person!
Talk about too little, too late. Where was this notice when we needed it? Now here we are left to do TP arithmetic: “Let’s see, four people, one pack of eight rolls, plus the two rolls under the sink will mean…” Or how about this question my husband posed to me today, “How much toilet paper do you think we use in a week?” It’s expected that the lady of the house has her finger on the pulse of most things, but, really, how many of us have that number at the ready? My response was gruff: “You’re kidding! How the hell am I supposed to know?”
Luckily government authorities have seen the efficacy of opening manufacturing plants they forced to close and are working overtime to bring others online. As one article in Yahoo! Finance reported, “Demand for paper goods has been so intense P&G has fired up previously idled factory equipment in Georgia in a record two-weeks time, a process that normally would take months.”
Well, let’s just all praise God for that.
As anyone involved in the fruitless pursuit of paper products knows, it’s not just toilet paper that has vanished from American store shelves. It’s paper towels, plates, and napkins, not to mention the all-important disposable diapers. Now that signals a real tragedy for mothers.
If we look carefully at the situation before us in these peculiar times, we see all manner of liberties under fire. As the right to buy necessities in quantity rapidly disappears, one sees both sides of the issue. If panic buying weren’t the order of the day, there would be no need for such measures. But now that the shelves are empty – and may stay that way for some time – isn’t it reasonable to force the buying public into mandated restraint?
Perhaps it doesn’t much matter. Americans, blessed with a good deal of pluck and ingenuity, will likely find a way around toilet paper martial law.
You’ll have to excuse me now as I take my entire family to the store so each of us can grab this sought-after luxury and line up at separate checkout stands. After all, one per person multiplied by four family members equals four packages.
But first, we will need to gather up Dad, who has been standing on the corner with a sign, “Will work for TP.”
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.
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