A FEW MONTHS ago, I ordered a case of commercial toilet paper rolls when I couldn’t find “residential-sized” rolls at the grocery store. Baby boomer that I am, I posted a photo of my gigantic toilet paper roll on Facebook (not quite Instagram-worthy). It was meant to be silly and eye-catching, and it certainly produced more comments than usual and maybe improved my FB feed for a minute. To be honest, I was more concerned that people would focus on my old and ugly green 1940s bathroom tile than on the giant toilet paper roll, courtesy of Amazon, as I immersed myself in new COVID buying patterns. Awkwardness aside, however, I decided to bare all for the sake of entertainment. I resorted to juvenile humor out of boredom, I rationalized. It was a welcome distraction from a global health crisis in a politically charged year.
“TP” is at least 10 inches in diameter and doesn’t fit into the regular slot, so my husband rigged up a solution that allows it to roll using a bungee cord. Brilliant. And that first roll lasted for what seemed forever. I was happy. I lived through the FB posts (no one commented on the ugly tile!) and I enjoyed seeing the bounty of my purchases, safe in the knowledge that I had all the toilet paper I needed during the pandemic. It has been a peaceful time, all things considered. I don’t have to go to the grocery store en masse, en mask, en glove. I can live in total decadence and use all the toilet paper my little heart desires. My hoarder’s stash, crowding my linen closet and spilling into my bedroom, has been a visual reminder I am cared-for and safe. I am RICH.
About a week into my toilet paper bounty, my husband tweaked the set-up. Could it get any better? You see, “TP” had its own giant inner cardboard roll and kind of bounced against the tiled wall. Blop, blop, blop. A little rip here, a little rip there; maybe I was able to get what I needed in one fell swoop, and maybe I had to start over and wad things up a bit. BUT THEN, brilliant fixer that my husband is, he added a regular-sized leftover cardboard roll on the inside of the large cardboard roll. Whoa! Now, TP rolled smoothly! No rips, no tears, just a nice little wad of toilet paper that was perfect for the job. Like ’70s soul music . . . never-ending and smooth. Background music to my daily routine and a new appreciation for the magic of adding one small “gear” to one’s set-up. I started to feel something akin to affection. Toward my giant TP and baby tp, that is.
I continued to marvel at how a gentle giant, its pint-sized clone, and one little tweak made by a savvy fixer made all the difference in the operations department. I sat and pondered in the Green Room (what else does one do during a pandemic? I had time). Big roller and little roller became my muse and a metaphor for a well-oiled machine as my mind meandered.
Well-oiled machine. Big gears and little gears, working in quiet, productive harmony. My husband, newly discovered mechanical engineering consultant. Me, acquisitions department (with a nod to Amazon, shipping/transport, and its manufacturing affiliate).
Bungee cord, strong enough and flexible enough for the job. How could one not be proud of the productivity and efficiency before me?
Fast-forward two months, TP the Fourth and little tp have been getting along nicely and holding up their end of the team effort. Bungee may need to retire as some threads are fraying. (We have identified and are interviewing a new bungee recruit.) Acquisitions and design departments, able to concentrate on other productive work. “Everyone” (allow me some personification) is clear on his or her roles and responsibilities, and management is pleased things are rolling along so smoothly.
Has this toilet paper motivated me? In short, yes. Do I have a better appreciation of how welcome it is to have a clearly defined goal and to be surrounded by efficient, creative team members? You bet. How am I going to implement my toilet paper strategy at work or in my personal life? I’m not quite sure (maybe a Green Room retreat is in order). But TP has changed my thinking and has given me a new-found inspiration to ponder which part of the process I do best or want to improve, not to mention an appreciation for the objects and people around me who lend their talents to my everyday riches. Silver linings.
What about you? How do you enrich your life?
Kathy Redd is a mom, a daughter-in-law and wife of a world-class jazz pianist. She works in property management in the Washington DC metro region.