October 27, 2010

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom: T.P. Life Lessons

I saw a bumper sticker that read: “Life is like a roll of toilet paper: The closer you are to the end, the faster it goes.”  Amusing yes, but there’s more to this bit of wisdom than first meets the eye.

Toilet paper is a valuable commodity.  Anyone who’s found themselves without it - especially at a ‘critical’ moment - will agree.  I certainly don’t want to imagine life without t.p. - I’d give up my precious coffee first.

(Although, to be fair, I’d have less need of one without the other.. but I digress)

Getting close to the end of the roll teaches us to be more practical and conservative.  When we’re young we tend to be frivolous with our resources because they’re plentiful.  We’re much more carefree when taking care of business.  As we go along, and our resources dwindle, we learn to appreciate the real value of things.  Eventually we figure out how to prioritize and handle stuff more efficiently.  (In other words, we learn how take care of shit)

Seeing the roll getting low can also show us the importance of good communication:  “Honey! I need a roll of t.p! ….Hello? … Somebody? ... ANYBODY?  Damn it!  WHY didn’t I check the roll first?”  (Thus toilet paper also teaches us self-reliance)

Have toilet paper soothes us. There’s a certain ease when we know we’re well-stocked with t.p. - a sense of readiness, like we’re prepared for the worst.  Conversely, when our stock gets low, there’s an ever-present anxiety in the back of our minds.  What’s worse than going to the store and forgetting to buy t.p?  Heck, some people run right back out to get it.  We need that comforting feeling.

Another thing t.p. brings to light is the appreciation of quality.  This becomes readily apparent when we’re forced to use ‘less-than-premium’ toilet paper.  Ever visit a public restroom with those giant rolls of thin, flat, un-perforated crepe paper?  You’re forced to compensate lack of quality with quantity.  (Honestly, are they really saving money when we use five times as much each time?)

I’ve never once regretted spending a bit more for better quality, but I’ve certainly regretted spending less.  I don’t need t.p. that feels like silk, but I don’t want sandpaper either.  Which brings up another point about appreciation: The worst kind of toilet paper to have is NO toilet paper.  (“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water” – Ben Franklin)

Toilet paper also serves as a lesson in diplomacy.  Almost everybody has a preferred way of spooling their toilet paper.  Some people prefer the ‘over’ method, with the paper feeding over the top of the roll.  Other people - the crazy ones - prefer the ‘under’ method.

(There are also people with weird vertical spools, whom I suppose have right-or-left preferences, but these are thankfully rare)

There’s a pretty good chance you will encounter a situation - say at a friend’s house - where the toilet paper is spooled the ‘wrong’ way for you.  Now re-spooling their t.p. is an option - and some folks might feel they’re being helpful by doing so - but believe me, it’s the WRONG thing to do.

Everybody likes it spooled THEIR way and it may not be the same as your's.  You have to resist the temptation and realize that it’s their house and they have a right to spool their paper the way they want.  You wouldn’t want them re-spooling YOUR toilet paper the wrong way, would you?

Obviously there’s a lot more to toilet paper than it just being a metaphor for the inevitable and ever-accelerating approach of the end of our roll.  Let’s each take some time (perhaps while on the throne) to mull over the many life lessons that t.p. can teach.


  1. wise man! forwarded this onto my husband and he is going to nod his head in agreement over your wise witty words!

  2. At my home we are 'overs' not unders on roll placement. Great post, Eric. As I read it, I had patriotic Sousa like music running through my mind.

  3. Well I guess we're weird, around my house. Whoever replaces the t.p. just tosses it on the roll. Over, under, makes no difference here. I hear about these people who have a need for one or the other, but i really don't get it...does it somehow impact performance?!? :)

  4. I'll never forget the day work ran out in every bathroom (four) with 30 employees! I now carry tissue in my pocket every day, cus you never know!

  5. i enjoy reading this funny. Anyway, i put t.p. over and not under..and not silk nor sandpaper hahahaha

    Thanks for the visit to my WW.


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