Tuesday, October 18, 2022

That ship has flown


    Cat-sitting duties took us into the city Saturday, and before we checked on Casper and Boo, we slid over to Taqueria Chignon, 2243 N. Western Avenue. We heard it was good, and indeed it was, spicy, substantial. I got a pair of cornmeal tacos, pictured above, of squash and duck, along with a well-crafted horchata, and was impressed.
     The cats seemed well, their food plentiful, happy to see us after their unaccustomed solitude. We petted and cooed at them, and while I was there I took a paternal look around the apartment of the young owner. It seemed he was down to his last few sheets of toilet paper and, trying to be a full-service cat guardian, I headed over to Walgreen's to stock up. One less thing to do upon his return.
     I couldn't recall ever heading to the store just for toilet paper, and wondered if they would give me an enormous bag for the enormous brick that TP comes in nowadays. Or whether I would just bear the assemblage away in both hands, which could be seen as awkward, even embarrassing. 
     This is a bit of foreshadowing; it turns out engineers were already on the job.
     After I paid — $10.99 for nine mega rolls — the cashier slapped a little handle onto the package. I'd never seen one before, and it struck me as clever. A lot less waste than a bag, and with a certain shimmer of newness around it. Of course, my purchase was not hidden, and I could see someone being reluctant to advertise their purchase, and all the alimentary activities suggested thereby. But given how frank toilet paper TV commercial have become, with obese cartoon bears practically ululating over how clean and fresh they feel, what a true pleasure defecation has become, thanks to whatever brand of toilet paper they're hawking, well, I imagine that ship has flown long ago, to mix metaphors.


  1. No thanks on the duck. That's a new on as far as the package handle goes.

  2. Costco sells 30-roll packages for less than fifty bucks, five six-packs sealed in plastic. Don't know if they slap on a handle, though. I don't think so. Maybe they let you use a hand truck to get it out to your car.

    At my urging, those 30-packs were one of the two things we hoarded in 2020 (the other was bulk packages of paper towels). We had a stack of almost six dozen rolls of TP during the earliest days of the Plague. It was like white gold.

    People in some cities were in panic mode. Our friend's son-in-law owns a grocery store in inner-city Detroit. A woman bought bulk TP, ripped open the packaging, and sold individual rolls of it in the parking lot until he chased her away. She was asking fifteen bucks a roll...and getting it. People were fighting over it.

    I didn't make that last story up, Mister S. It happened. Being told about it disturbed me more than almost anything else I heard about during the pandemic, except maybe the panic buying of guns and ammo. If we ever face a REAL long-term crisis in this country, like Ukraine leading to WWIII, or a depression...with a Capital D, or Northern Ireland on steroids...I think we're up shit creek (sorry).

    1. The 30 roll packs of Kirkland are $19.99 & the 30 roll packs of Charmin Ultra Soft [the absolute best TP ever made are several bucks more & are often an sale]. But nowhere near $50.

    2. Hey, at least she was making it available to those who needed it, rather than hoarding more than she could use in several years. Although perhaps you shared it with others but were too modest to say so.

    3. If you buy them online and have them delivered, the 30-packs were about $45.

    4. I'll admit that it took us a while to shrink the pile, as we replenished it with far smaller packages. We have about half of one 30-pack on hand right now. We also gave some of our stash to the wife of my brother-in-law, who's in his 80s and has dementia. Yes, I was nothing but a hoarder who panicked...no doubt about it. Desperate times, desperate measures.

      But I didn't do what that woman in Detroit did. She was profiteering...that's the word for it. The word that was used during WWII. The way people do after hurricanes in Florida, or after floods and other disasters. Gas briefly shot up to four bucks a gallon in my Cleveland neighborhood, after 9/11...and again when the refineries in Loozianna stopped producing, after Katrina. They were price-gouging, plain and simple. The city shut all of them down.

  3. (Pardon a correction: Taqueria Chingon (not Chignon) is at 2234 N. Western, not 22343.)

    I don't think toilet paper has any air of embarrassment left to offer when seen in public. It's interesting how quickly we slide into and out of Panic Mode when it comes to toilet paper and other necessities, and I have sometimes wondered whether that's helped or harmed by the massive amount we can get in a single purchase of one packaged quantity nowadays. If one 72-roll package is now commonly available at Walmart, a second might be prudent to grab due to (insert latest crisis here). One day a shortage is a minor inconvenience; the next it's a full-blown crisis, but depending not so much on the supply itself as on, well, anything or everything else in the world.

    If it's not an actual production problem, it's a symptom of something else instead. Us older people will remember the run on TP back in 1973, when Johnny Carson made a monologue joke amplifying a minor news story about a looming shortage of commercial pulp for paper products, and that was enough to stampede the herd.

    The key is to respond quickly to such news, and pile up a reserve at your house before the hoarders buy up everything.


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