During a recent stay at a motel I saw something odd: in the bathroom there were two toilet paper rolls offered, one over the other.
This brought to mind one of the age-old conundrums that has pestered human minds since the first rolls were mass produced in the 14th century: should toilet paper be hung so it reels off the top or bottom?
Personally, I don’t think it should be hung at all. I’m with the sixth century Chinese, credited by Wikipedia with the first use of tissue paper for personal hygiene. Then and there they simply set a small stack near the commode, perhaps on the back of a slave. Hang rolls today, why waste the time? Just set it on the sink, a shelf or the floor next to the porcelain, another Chinese invention. Besides taking fewer steps to get the roll into position, it also places it in a location more flexible to users be they left- or right-handed.
And, while we’re on the subject, my thinking goes along the same lines to the question of what position the seat and lid should be left in after use. I say the most efficient practice is to leave it as is. Who is to say the next customer isn’t the same gender requiring the same configuration? Sure an unsuspecting female might dunk her bum if she’s not looking, but then an innocent male– not necessarily this innocent male– might splatter more than a Jackson Pollock wannabe if he fails to noticed the closed lid.
Sabra is laissez-faire when it comes to the over/under hang question. This surprises me, as she is a woman that has a prescribed procedure for just about everything, including fluffing chicken feed. My roll-set-wherever suggestion is a non-starter, however, and we hang not set. I might argue for a liberal policy on the issue of putting down the lid after every use if another variable, namely our dog Pearl, didn’t enter the picture. Pearl not only drinks out of the toilet but also seems to relish it to the point of submerging her head while doing so and, subsequently, dripping all over the house.
It’s lids down in our household.
So what was it about the motel array that perplexed me? At first blush hanging two rolls is simply and most probably a way to keep a room amply stocked at all times. Yet there was something odd about the configuration. Than it struck me: while the hangers were identical the tissue was not. The top roll had an extra ply, floral printed and slightly fluffy paper while the other offered the standard industrial thin, white and scratchy.
What’s up with that? It was a large motel; surely they didn’t stock it willy-nilly with whatever was on hand. There had to be a plan. One for men, one for women, perhaps? Or maybe they were meant to be rolled off together making an on the spot hybrid, soft and pretty on the inside, hard and utilitarian on the outside?
And that, my readers, is what I think it is: a marketing ploy to get us to use twice the paper at every sitting.
It’s like bottled water, something people didn’t even know they needed until Perrier launched a marketing campaign in 1977. Did you know that the world spends about $100 billion a year on bottled water, and there’s no evidence that the H2O is better tasting or better for you than tap water? In fact there is evidence that the chemicals that can leech out of plastic bottles are bad for you, and the process of bottling/transporting water is a scourge to the environment.
Or it’s like the razor. If toilet paper goes the way of the Gillette, we’ll soon demand that bathrooms offer a pentad of dispensers.
It’s enough for a guy like me to want to stay home and just sit on his throne, leaving the paperwork for later.