Monday, January 17, 2011

Paper "goods"

I'll tell ya what stresses me out at the grocery store:

the toilet paper aisle.

No, it's not a fear of social stigma, or just general embarrassment. In fact, this morning when I bought an emergency refill pack at the gas station I walked out the front door with it tucked under my arm, as casually as if it were my wallet.

So it's not that I have a fear of someone catching me with some TP in public.

It's the numbers!!

1. The prices, i.e. dollar numbers. No, it's not too expensive (except for at the gas station! Phew! Well, desperate times.), that's not the issue.

We'll get back to this.

2. The number of plies. Single ply? 2-ply? Triple?

3. The number of rolls per pack.

And finally,

4. The sheer VOLUME of options! I don't know what the deal is, that toilet paper needs to fill up an entire aisle (or close to). I don't know if it's because it's made of fluffy paper and there's a lot of air space coiled up in those rolls, or what! Regardless, it's
  1. ridiculous, and
  2. stressful.
Which brings me back to the prices. And the plies. And the rolls per pack, and the number of options. All of it really works together to stress me out, which is where I believe the success of the monster that is the toilet paper aisle really lies.

Think about this with me. Perhaps you already have, during your own stress session; if so, welcome to this internet group therapy. You're safe here.

Okay. So you enter the aisle. You look at the rolls; well, some of the rolls, since, as we've established, the aisle is so freakishly full of rolls. How many individual rolls do you think are there, actually? Upwards of 2,000?


So you look at the individual packs themselves. You start, perhaps, thinking about price. How much you're willing to spend on something that doesn't stay with you long (my apologies on the subtle crudeness; although I am smirking at my clever quip). Or maybe your first thought is brand. Or number of plies.

I'm willing to bet 10 squares that no matter where you start in your thinking, quickly you are hit by all your questions at once.

And my question is, how do we stop this madness? Is there a solution?

So you look at the first five kinds or so, you settle on 2-ply, then you realize the package only has four rolls, or maybe eight. Well you don't want to come back to the store so quickly to restock. So you look at the 12 pack, or the 24 pack. Then you realize that the 24 pack has single rolls, while the 12 pack has double rolls.

Well now you're in a pickle.

So then you're thinking, "Well what's the difference?!" Then you look at prices. Say, a 37 cent difference. Meh. A meaningful amount to save. Then you wonder if the double rolls are really worth their extra 37 cents. Then you wonder if the 24 pack is all it's cracked up to be.

Then you wonder if this whole idea of "double" is some big marketing sham

--it probably is--

and then you're back at square one.


And then,

well, assuming you're as neurotic as I am, which you luckily probably aren't,

you're literally pacing the aisle, because it's so freaking big!, walking back and forth between brands, then those orange "best value" signs start to glare even brighter as you get more and more confused, and then you


And then you think some more. You take a deep breath. You realize this does not deserve so much to-do. It's just 37 cents.

And then you grab something. Put it in your cart. Hover for a moment, considering trading it for something else.

And then you capitulate. You walk away. The toilet paper wins again.

You guys might think I'm exaggerating, but I am serious when I say that I honestly think just about every time I buy toilet paper I am somehow dissatisfied with my decision, wondering if I got ripped off, or how quickly the squares are gonna get ripped off their rolls before I'll find myself right back where I started:

The evil, white, paper filled aisle. Right next to the paper towels and napkins.

1 comment:

  1. I almost strictly buy my TP at the convenient store across the street, in a package of four. There are two different varieties, both of which I've tried, and there is one I like better (the one that does have separate paper and tube parts). Buying it at the regular store is kind of a pain, because I'm usually buying more things, and only have so much room on my bicycle.