When the World Health Organization upgraded the coronavirus outbreak to a pandemic last Wednesday, Americans finally came to the realization that drastic measures had to be taken to protect lives. They soon discovered that there was a matter of even greater urgency, hoarding toilet paper.
The fear of running out of toilet paper now supersedes the fear of catching coronavirus. Around the country reports are pouring in to police 911 call centers, not from victims in respiratory distress with high fevers, but from people running out of toilet paper.
Washington Radar interviewed consumers in different states who could not find toilet paper at top grocery chains over the weekend. A South Carolina father visited several stores and pharmacies, including Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens on Saturday and Sunday but could not find a single role of toilet paper. Luckily he had enough at home to last for several days.
A Florida mother visited her neighborhood Big Lots, and Sam’s Club on Saturday but could not find any toilet paper. She had to buy boxes of Kleenex as back up. Sam’s Club promised to restock overnight and shoppers were advised to return at 10 A.M. on Sunday.
A Costco employee posted footage online of the Toilet Paper Rush of 2020 that takes place every morning as soon as the doors open. Scores of customers bolt down the long, circuitous aisles in unison with shopping carts, making a mad dash with one destination in mind — the toilet paper section.
Toilet paper ‘dealers’ are now pacing street corners in some neighborhoods, selling the scarce commodity for the right price. People are even stealing toilet paper from public restrooms and port-a-potties.
Hilarious footage surfaced on Instagram of a flatbed truck driver with a six-pack of toilet paper fastidiously secured with an excessively long rope.
There is even an online tool that will calculate how much toilet paper you need to survive the pandemic based on how many rolls you have currently and how many times a day you visit the loo.
The Newport Police Department in Oregon posted a tweet in exasperation on Saturday notifying the public that they are not to call the emergency line simply because they ran out of toilet paper.
“It’s hard to believe that we even have to post this,” the police tweeted. “Do not call 9-1-1 just because you ran out of toilet paper. You will survive without our assistance.”
“In fact, history offers many other options for you in your time of need if you cannot find a roll of your favorite soft, ultra-plush two-ply citrus scented tissue.”
The helpful police then launched into a toilet paper history lesson: “Seamen used old rope and anchor lines soaked in salt water. Ancient Romans used a sea sponge on a stick, also soaked in salt water. We are a coastal town. We have an abundance of salt water available. Sea shells were also used.”
“Mayans used corn cobs. Colonial Americans also used the core of the cob. Farmers not only used corn cobs, but used pages from the Farmers’ Almanac. Many Americans took advantage of the numerous pages torn from free catalogs such as Sears and Roebuck. The Sears Christmas catalog, four times thicker than the normal catalog, could get a family of three wiped clean from December through Valentine’s Day; or Saint Patrick’s Day if they were frugal,” the police noted.
They offered tips for modern day solutions to this age-old dilemma: “Then, of course, there are always alternatives to toilet paper. Grocery receipts, newspaper, cloth rags, lace, cotton balls, and that empty toilet paper roll sitting on the holder right now. Plus, there are a variety of leaves you can safely use.”
“Mother Earth News magazine will even tell you how to make your own wipes using fifteen different leaves. When all else fails, you have magazine pages. Start saving those catalogs you get in the mail that you usually toss into the recycle bin. Be resourceful. Be patient. There is a TP shortage. This too shall pass. Just don’t call 9-1-1. We cannot bring you toilet paper.”