"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Not-So-Great Toilet Paper Caper

It’s late March, a typical Colorado quarantine evening, except that my toilet paper is somewhere in China’s Guangdong Province.


The Safeway shelves are empty… but we aren’t out of TP yet. It’s too soon to freak out.


Still, when an ad pops up on social media, I make a panic buy: 40 rolls.


“Ships in 12 hours,” the ad says.

My friend Judy checks out the website and proclaims it “kinda scammy.” I eventually admit to her that I know my order will never arrive.



The paper goods aisle in the store remains pillaged. What if the unthinkable happens? Remember when Elaine from Seinfeld sat in a bathroom stall that was out of toilet paper? Is that my destiny?


A friend posts on Facebook about several varieties of leaves you can use instead. I shudder recalling that teenage summer and the hideous case of poison ivy I got after squatting in the woods during a bonfire at the beach…


Weeks go by. The company’s website has disappeared. I email the sellers and demand a refund. I dial their San Francisco phone number… It rings and rings. I Google that number and find more than a hundred tacky sites selling random crap from kitchen tools to cell phone cases to lacy lingerie.


I hear my Latin teacher father’s voice: Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.



I accuse the sellers of fraud and threaten to report them to the FTC, the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general. They respond with two tracking numbers… 

The info is in Chinese.


Remember the vintage White Cloud spot where the old woman whispers “toilet paper”? Well, now I want to scream TOILET PAPER.


In mid-May, after 42 days, there is a package at the mailbox.


“Did you get me a sweater?” my husband asks, because the parcel looks about that size.


We tear it open. There are 20 miniature rolls of no-name toilet paper. The other 20 arrive the next day.

I think about the little playhouse we had in our backyard when I was a child. These are doll-sized rolls, not the 600-foot rolls advertised. A standard roll is 302-feet long. My guess is these are half that. Maybe.


I constantly replace the empty rolls. This toilet paper is not going the distance. 

So please, don’t  ask me to share. The truth is, I can’t spare it. I don’t have a square to spare… 

Besides, every one of my perforated toilet paper sheets is a rectangle.


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