or, “Why is that Toilet Paper Meme So Funny When I Have Plenty of Toilet Paper, and Not So Funny When I Don’t?”
» Sheila Ager, Dean of Arts
About five weeks or so ago, just as the University was on the verge of closing down on-campus classes and shifting us to WFH mode, people began circulating the funny ha-ha jokes and images around toilet paper hoarding, scarcity, and preciousness. At first, I laughed, but at the same time thought, “Well, I’d better pick some up.”
I went off to the Zehr’s I usually shop at, and was struck with the sight of the paper products aisle. I seem to recall my breath accelerating slightly, first sign of incipient panic. “No problem,” I said to myself, “I’ll pick some up at the drugstore.” I guess you can figure what I found when I got to the drugstore. Not only no toilet paper, but no Kleenex, and as I entered the store, I passed a man coming out, furtively clutching what turned out to be the last package of paper towels.
More accelerated breath. But someone had mentioned to me that one can place an order for pickup at the grocery store, so I cunningly created a Zehr’s account and ordered toilet paper. Being a responsible citizen, I limited myself to ordering only two packs. I got an e-mail saying my order had been received, and that my pickup window was between 2:00 and 3:00 the following day. “That’s it – problem solved!” I said to myself, and didn’t bother scrolling down through the rest of the e-mail.
The next day, I arrived at the Zehr’s and bumptiously informed the young men at the pickup section that I had an order waiting for me. Indeed, there was a package of toilet paper sitting on one of the shelves right next to their desk. They went through all their paperwork, checked the computer, and said, “No, you don’t.” Now, normally I am a fairly non-aggressive person (really), but I came right back at them and said, “Yes, I do, I paid for it!” We went back and forth like this a few times, then I pulled out my phone and said, “Look, here’s the message that has my order number and everything!” They thereupon told me that if I had scrolled all the way down, I would have seen (in red print) that the order couldn’t be filled because toilet paper was out of stock and that my VISA payment had been canceled. I might at this point have succumbed to the next stage of panic (I don’t quite recall), and said something vaguely desperate like, “But what am I supposed to do?”, and once again was told, “Sorry – we just don’t have any toilet paper.” I returned to attack mode, and said, “Yes, you do – you’ve got some right there!”, stabbing my forefinger at the single package sitting on the shelf. One of them then said, “Yeah, I don’t know where that came from – I guess I could let you have that.”