… on fear and toilet paper

Okay, let’s get this out of the way.

I have toilet paper.

I have five rolls of it, tucked into the cabinet located at the upper left of the downstairs bathroom door. Also, there’s a little on the roll inside said bathroom.

I tell you this because…


Should you, or anyone you know and/or love, loose your mind and begin looting in my neighborhood – blaming, say, a recent worldwide pandemic – I figure, if you know where all my toilet paper is, you will not be forced to tear through my entire house, scattering stuff that I personally consider much more important in an apocalypse (bandaids and soup) while you search for your life-saving tooshy tissue.

It is probably clear, at this point, that I have spent some time thinking about this.

Enough time, I might add, to come by the knowledge that the average person uses approximately 100 rolls of toilet paper per year (that’s regular rolls, not the mega ones that barely fit on the spool thingie).

This works out to precisely 8.33 rolls per month.

Oh! I am glad you asked.

That makes it 4.16 rolls during a two-week period.

Why yes!

It just so happens that, should you need to self-quarantine, it would be for fourteen days…

Which is two weeks!

So what, on earth, are people doing with all the toilet paper?!

This morning, my Practice Kid (niece), sent me a very funny meme from Facebook. I can’t remember what the photo was but the words were, “If, during a worldwide pandemic, your instinct is to hoard toilet paper, you may not be prepared to survive a worldwide pandemic.”

I laughed out loud.

No. Not because I am not taking everything that is happening seriously. I am.

But you are also talking to – well, listening to… okay reading – someone who appreciates dark humor at the worst of times.

I do not think tough stuff and laughter are mutually exclusive.

As a matter of fact, I’ll take laughter over toilet paper any day.

That being said, I did google “why are people hoarding toilet paper during coronavirus outbreak” (because why wouldn’t I?). And I clicked on an article that said, in a time of worry and fear, we tend to look for something to control. Also, we are social animals. So, at some point, someone decided on the necessity to control amounts of stockpiled toilet paper at home. And then, someones noticed that people were stocking up on toilet paper, so – not to be left vulnerable – they figured they’d better stock up on it too. Then folks noticed empty toilet paper shelves and got all freaked out and started to grab any and all toilet paper they saw…

It is actually, scientifically, not wanting to be separated from the herd.

Like, the lead Wildebeest mistakes a tumbleweed for a hungry lion and freaks out, stampeding the whole herd.

Oh I know.

You thought we were so much more evolved too.


Replace that tumbleweed with a few empty toilet paper shelves and apparently we are the equivalent of funky looking, migratory prey animals.

Queue the crocodiles.


We could think different.

A few years back, in 2009/10 actually, we all lived through the last worldwide pandemic… together.

I actually had to prove this to JoHn by showing him the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) archive pages. 

Governments around the world did some things right, some things wrong.

Individuals around the world did some things right, some things wrong.

I choose to believe we did the best, collectively, that we could, with who we were and what we knew at the time.

In that pandemic, more than a billion people got sick around the world.

500,000 died.

Of those numbers, 60.8 million Americans contracted H1N1 (1 in 6 of us), with some 400,000 hospitalizations, and – depending on which numbers you look at – between 12,000 and 17,000 people were lost.

It was awful.

And from it, we learned… a lot.

What is happening right now is that we are trying not to hit those numbers with this particular virus. We don’t want this thing to become part of our everydays.

Even if most of us won’t get sick, this is about saving lives.

You know… mothers, fathers, grandparents… sons… daughters.

Each one matters.

I totally get the toilet paper thing.

The need to do something to gain a sense of control when we don’t know what to do.

Except we do know what to do.

We each have a very important job, and are morally and ethically bound to perform it with excellence, and pride. It’s not just about keeping ourselves alive. The numbers do show that we are highly unlikely to contract this virus, let alone die from it.

But it’s about saving other people too.

We can be each other’s heroes.

Honest to God heroes.

Yes, there’s the hand washing (every healthcare worker I’ve spoken to says plain soap and water is the way to go (hand sanitizer is for when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water)). Thirty seconds. Thorough washing. A lot during each day.

The don’t touch the face thing is real. Microscopic critters in our nose and mouth and eyes = nope (don’t want ’em).

But it doesn’t stop there.

You’re under the age of 60 and healthy and confident that you aren’t going to die from it? Yay you.

And so what.

Putting yourself in a situation where you might contract it – big crowds, locations with growing numbers of infected folks – and risk, before you ever show symptoms, bringing it back to your family, your friends… your elderly neighbor… a stranger in a supermarket excited her chemo seems to be working, even though it has wreaked havoc on her immune system…

This is not consistent with the hero thing.

No game…

No spring break…

No concert…

No <insert something super fun (but not imminently necessary) here> is worth that.

Consider that a few weeks of inconvenience might be enough to literally save lives.

We actually know what to do now.

1. Put the toilet paper down.

2. Choose a cool superhero name.

3. Put on your cape.

It’s time to hero up.

Thanks for readin’.

You can comment below, or join fellow ponderers on Just Ponderin’s Facebook page… or both! You are in total control.