Don’t Squeeze the Charmin

White Roll Toilet Paper
Getty

 

The most familiar admonition from the Book of Timothy in the New Testament tells us: Money is the root of all evil. But there’s more to Timothy’s story. Directly addressing the End of Times – the very Apocalypse – herewith a condensed warning:

“There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves – proud, abusive, ungrateful, unholy, without love, without self-control, brutal, treacherous, rash.”

Oddly, there is no direct mention of toilet paper. But that’s what he was talking about, right?

My partner watched a woman wheel the last seven 18-packs of Charmin out of her local Dollar General on Saturday. That’s 126 rolls of toilet paper. It seems to me that her problem is not the current scarcity of home goods. I’m thinking it might be her diet.

When I tried to purchase three 4-packs of Angel Soft on Tuesday at Canseco’s grocery store on Esplanade Avenue, I was (politely) informed that the limit was two per customer. I think I handled the situation pretty well. No foul language, no tantrum, no holding up the check-out line venting my personal frustrations.

Truthfully, the fact that they were out of onions was considerably more egregious for me.

Who hoards onions?

It did occur to me to pay for my ration of eight rolls of toilet paper and then come back again in a few minutes and buy eight more at another check-out line. But then I got to thinking about Timothy again.

WWTD? Fittingly, the passage I quoted above is from 2 Timothy, as in the number two. You know, like – well, you know. Number one. Number two. It seemed a clear message from the heavens. So I let it pass.

All things must pass.

And then, of course, you need more toilet paper.

You would think New Orleanians would be more generous of spirit in trying times, not hoarding essential goods, depriving one another. I mean, we sort of established the standard for dealing with disaster in modern times after Katrina. Aside from “commandeering” plasma screen TVs from Wal-Mart, abandoning refrigerators in Audubon Park and cops stealing Cadillacs from a downtown auto dealership – on the whole we did a pretty commendable job of keeping it together. Of watching out for each other.

Of exemplifying the triumph of the human spirit.

But hoarding toilet paper? It doesn’t make sense. As best I know, coronavirus symptoms do not include diarrhea.

As best I know.

Remember Martin Shkreli, the infamous “Pharma Bro?” He was the smirking, unapologetic pharmaceutical company exec who, in 2015, secured the exclusive vending rights to Daraprim – a drug used for treating life-threatening infections in AIDS and cancer patients – and promptly jacked the price of a pill from $13 to $750.

He earned the title of “the most hated man in America,” a distinction held earlier that year by that dentist from Minnesota who shot and killed Cecil the Lion – perhaps the best known and most beloved big cat in Africa since Elsa of “Born Free” fame – in a national park in Zimbabwe.

He’s serving out a prison term of seven years for securities fraud. So let that be a warning to you hoarders selling toilet paper on eBay.

Selling toilet paper on eBay. A sentence I never imagined I would write. But these are strange times.

Consider the decision by the Northern Territory News, a Rupert Murdoch newspaper in Australia, to print eight blank pages in its weekend edition as a public service for its subscribers who have been unable to procure toilet paper in stores.

I’m not making this up.

So, for New Orleanians who are still pissed off at the Times-Picayune for its abandonment of the city several years ago – and who are themselves unable to find toilet paper in their local stores – that’s one alternative to consider. Not an entirely pleasant one, I admit.

So what to do now? What does our future hold? Once again, I turn to Timothy for wisdom and grace. (But this time I’m talking about my bartender friend Timothy – not the Bible guy.) And he notes:

“When the final chapter is written – when we embrace our survivors and mourn our dead – at least we can do so with the comfort and gratitude that they died with their asses clean.”

 

 

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