Are our lives driven by toilet paper?


It is on again, the rush to hoard toilet paper. Of all the things that we hold dear in Australia, the country of sun and sandy beaches, nothing seems as precious than to own the soft rolls and total freedom to wipe the remnants of our bowels and bladders.  Last night the TV news showed us supermarket shelves stripped bare of toilet paper. Within minutes of the Governments announcements of a Lockdown and the puckered-up hordes of the anally constricted descended upon shops stocking up on toilet paper. Not a shadow of guilt or shame passed over their faces. I know because I took some time off to look at the spectacle. As I was walking around the Supermarkets Woolworth’s carpark I was amazed at he exuberance and shared bonhomie. Laughter and banter were almost like a post war victory celebration.  A shared kind of intimacy rarely observed between Anglo Saxons. No words were used but; we know what you all end up doing with those endless hoards of white sheets, AND WE APPROVE was the message.!

I read that in Italy it is the  olive oil with shoe polish that gets hoarded. In the Scandinavian countries, libraries and books are being hoarded, in The Netherlands, herrings!  But Australia and possibly the US it are the gleaming white toilet rolls that beckons us.

Friedrich Nietzsche was one of those philosophers that held high the notion that wretchedness and despair ought be held high and that every sort of difficulty be welcomed by those that sought fulfillment. What is it that those toilet roll hunters are so keenly finding when gazing upon those shelves at the supermarket? Are they Nietzsche followers?

Friedrich wasn’t always so enlightened by the gloom and doom but he was encouraged when opening the Schopenhauer book that really gave him the impetus to follow the path of wretchedness.  He wrote and I quote “Back at the house I threw myself into the corner of a sofa with my new treasure, and began to let that dynamic, dismal genius work on me. Each line cried out with renunciation, negation, resignation.”   Unquote.

There are people much better qualified to find reasons why in Australia it are the toilet rolls during crisis that people buy while in Italy the olive oil is bought up. Is it the cooking with oil instead of butter and the swimming in the warm Mediterranean? “These little things- nutriment, place, mount Vesuvius, Capri, recreation, all of greater importance than the dryness, the seriousness of life lived in suburban shadows amongst the wilting gladioli with curtains closed, tempers hosed and maligned ambitions, the week-end at Coffs and The big banana?  

I don’t know but am open to your sage advice and opinions.


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28 Responses to “Are our lives driven by toilet paper?”

  1. Big M Says:

    The obsession with date rolls escapes me, although Mrs M points out, that under my direction our household is always about twelve rolls ahead of our actual needs. Why pasta? It’s only boiled bread as far as I can see. Why not sources of protein? Tinned meat or fish. What about fuel? No propane or petrol hoarders here. A long weekend does send Novocastrians into mini hoarding mode. Easter or Christmas gets them purchase two or three slabs of Cola, lamb roasts and paper toiling. Perhaps Corona hoarding is just an extension. Meanwhile our politicians of both sides look like a group of chimpanzees trying to deal with a green ant’s nest!

    Liked by 3 people

    • auntyuta Says:

      You say: “. . . our household is always about twelve rolls ahead of our actual needs.”

      This does make absolute sense to me. So if I am left with only six rolls, shouldn’t I rush off and buy another six rolls?

      I reckon I can avoid panic buying, if I regularly stock up with six rolls so that at no time do I have less than six rolls in the house!

      Well, it is rather funny, seeing people panic buying in times of crisis. You describe it well, Gerard. Oh yes, very, very funny! 🙂

      Maybe, we should have a bit of compassion for people who do not have enough toilet rolls left at home, like, if you have only one or two rolls left at home, you do need to stock up with a dozen or so? What do you think?

      Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        People are in a frenzy is what I noticed. They are so determined and one would not like to tackle some of them. They can be huge too!

        Some toilet packets come in suitcase size and even have carry handles.

        A savvy manufacturer will soon produce packs of toilet paper on wheels and extendable handles for us oldies.

        You wait and see, dear Uta.

        Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It must be a cultural phenomenon, Big M. Perhaps the beer drinking added the drive to run for toilets. And our outdoor dunnies are world renowned. Early poetry was scribed first on faded newsprint and then followed by those beckoning white toilet paper rolls that started to do the rounds around the early fifties.
      Railway station always were a drawcard for toilet aficionados but one brought own newsprint, the rolled up Daily Telegraph was much coveted.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Don’t forget the Italians have those wonderful bidets.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. leggypeggy Says:

    The toilet paper rush completely confounds me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert Parker Says:

    It’s such a strange reaction — canned & dried foods, olive oil, bottled water, and some good books make a lot more sense to me. I only made it through a few pages of Schopenhauer as an undergrad, there’s a book I’d be willing to sacrifice if we run out of toilet paper.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. freefall852 Says:

    I think I have a part of the answer, Gerard….: “Unboxing”….the thrill of opening or unpacking a wrapped product…Evidently, some manufacturers base the attraction of their product around the customer’s thrill in unpacking the box to find what’s inside!…mind you, one can see the toilet rolls (in most cases, except those warpped in recycled paper…which WE USE! ) through the plastic wrapper…and I would suspect that experience in using the contained product from a very young age ought to ameliorate any thrill of expectation of surprise.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, true. Children love unpacking presents.
      I am not sure unpacking toilet paper has the same feeling as unpacking a chess set or ice skates.
      The vacuum packet meat trays are almost beyond opening and so are packets of screws or hinges.


  6. shoreacres Says:

    Well, I can’t wrap my mind around the need for lockdowns, but I’ve certainly seen the same behavior on an annual basis, when the first hurricane of the season shows up. Pre-hurricane panic focuses more on water, bread, and peanut butter than tp, but there seems to be something comforting for some people in the last-minute rush.

    Personally, I gather my hurricane supplies — batteries, water, and such — by about June 1. And if I run out of tp? Well, I was raised in a time when old Sears catalogues were left in the outhouse — and not only for reading!

    I did do some stockpiling earlier this summer, and it’s a good thing I did. When supply chain problems started being reported, I bought two cases of varnish. Today? There’s a nationwide varnish shortage; in fact, you can’t buy the brand I use anywhere, and the distributor says it won’t be in their warehouses until August. Had I not stockpiled, I’d be in serious financial difficulty — or using inferior products.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Linda. I never thought much about stocking up on varnish but that is just a shortcoming in my imagination. Obviously, those that depend on varnish for work and income, it would be very important.

      My dad was most impacted by shortages of tobacco during the last war and many little boys used to walk the streets picking up butts thrown out by the German soldiers only to be gratefully received by dads to undo an re-use to the last thread. I too was one of those little boys.

      But, this panic about toilet paper lives in a different world on its own.


  7. freefall852 Says:

    Of course, there is the much deeper psychological “need” for fullfillment in the bulk purchase of those toilet rolls…one I have been reticent to mention because of the deep, inner sensitivity that it may have on many of your readers, Gerard..:

    If any of you notice, there is a first preference for those brands that advertise as “super soft” and ” tender and durable”…featuring kittens, puppys and even babies in the advertising…all this is done to allow the buyer and user to “identify” with…I believe..that moment lost when as a toddler, your favourite “soft-cuddle toy” gets “disappeared” while you are distracted one day and is lost and is explained away by the culprit parent as having “perhaps he went to visit and live with other teddy bears/dinosaurs (or whatever the now grotty, indispensible security toy was!)”….and the panic purchase of that “super-soft”, cuddly dunny paper is the nearest thing to an adult substitute….

    Liked by 1 person

    • freefall852 Says:

      I have this mental picture of so many of those bulk buyers of toilet paper laying in a feotal position, clinch-clutching a 12 pack of “Quillion”, rocking back and forth whilst wimpering uncontrollably…

      Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Jo. It must be so harrowing to contemplate going without toilet paper. Perhaps there is some kind of addiction involved in the act of wiping. I don’t know.
      Just have a look at this video and how rational people so easily loose the plot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • freefall852 Says:

        Ah…indeed…I wonder if many realise the consequences of such selfish actions..The disturbing of the social equilibrium can have catastrophic consequences….history is littered with empires that tried to control people and nature…the poem “Ozymandias” tells it plainly.


  8. petspeopleandlife Says:

    During the first six months of COVID there was general hoarding of all paper products but fortunately for me I was ahead of the mad house since I always keep a hefty supply of most essentials so that I don’t ever have to be without. Folks went nuts over toilet paper for many months and then gradually companies caught up with the demand. Nice post, Gerrard and let it never be said that you have left out any topic.


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