Today I returned from the weekly shopping trip with a giant package of toilet paper. You know the kind you get at the warehouse store with five 9-roll packages and each roll is a GIANT roll so that the forty-five rolls in the package is equivalent to 112 rolls, or so the packaging says. Problem is, there was no place to put it because in the closet was 3/5 of the previous package.
“Hey,” I asked my wife, “how did toilet paper get on the shopping list?”
“We were down to our last three packages” she replied.
“Yes, the last three in backstock. Plus the ones in the bathrooms and at least two of those are only missing a roll or two. That’s something north of 45 GIANT rolls in the house and we are buying more?”
“This is not something you really want to run out of, is it?”
Well, I can’t fault her there. We can run low on food and instead of going to the store I’ll scavenge the pantry trying to figure out if I put the last of the bread crumbs on the lone can of beans and broil it, will it make an edible casserole. But if it looks like we are running low on toilet paper, I’m dragging a pack of the fluffy white stuff over the self-scan checkout counter before you can say “Mr. Whipple.” And maybe while I’m there I’ll pick up, you know, some food.
But when exactly did the threshold for “low on toilet paper” become the equivalent of 112 rolls? Did I miss an announcement somewhere? Did toilet paper join the DHS list of survival supplies along with duct tape and plastic sheeting? The problem with warehouse stores is that buying in such large quantities distorts your perceptions of inventory management. If you get that giant bottle of shampoo, you need another in backstock when it gets about half empty. Never mind that “half empty” is the equivalent of two normal bottles of shampoo.
Last time I bought bleach it came in a box of three 1-gallon jugs. Considering a the most expensive brand of bleach is $2 or $3 a jug, how much can I possibly save buying three at a time? Considering I bought these about six months ago and we have yet to actually open one (the last jug in the kitchen was about 1/2 full and the one in the laundry room almost full when I bought this carton) I think the storage cost may actually exceed any savings.
Yes, I said storage cost. I rent a storage unit because all my closet space in the house is full. What is it full of, you ask? Well, three cubic feet of is it toilet paper and another three cubic feet is bleach. If I divide my monthly storage fee by cubic feet in the storage unit, that case of bleach has cost me a few dollars over the last six months.
The problem is, it doesn’t stop there. There’s another cubic foot of space in my closet lost to cotton swabs. I shit you not. There are those of us for whom the humongous 750-pack of cotton swabs just isn’t enough. For our species of shopper, the warehouse club bundles no less than THREE of these and at one point even had a sign enticing us to purchase the “handy 1,850 pack!” Handy? Seriously? “Handy” is that little 5-pack the hotel gives you. There’s nothing “handy” about a quantity of cotton swabs you could shear like a sheep and then knit a sweater from.
The thought that somebody got paid to think up the sign for the “handy 1,850 pack” blows my mind. As does the realization that it worked on me. Seeking a dose of reality, I mentioned this to my brother.
“So?” he replied nonchalantly. “I use two or three of those things a day.”
“OK, let’s say you use four a day. And your girlfriend uses another four. That’s still something like a seven or eight month supply. Seriously, what in the world does anyone buy a seven month supply of?”
“Toilet paper,” he replied. “That stuff is really cheap if you buy it in the big packages. But you have to be careful because you get used to having a lot of it around and then before you know it you run out.”