The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 18, 2012

Imagine bringing own toilet paper to work

By Kelly Kazek

— Humor writers rarely have the occasion to hear four sweeter words than “great toilet paper debacle,” but in the case of Trenton, N.J., a recent incident is more of a cause for sadness and reflection than ridicule and laughter.

I’m not going to let that stop me.

Many of you probably saw stories on national news last week that the city workers of Trenton were left without toilet paper supplies after a standoff between the mayor and city council over costs. Finally, on Wednesday, the stalemate ended, which allowed Times of Trenton reporter Matt Fair to get punny with his lead “City employees are flush with relief today after officials with Mayor Tony Mack’s administration said they’d moved forward with an emergency purchase of toilet paper.”

Don’t you just hate it when journalists make use of obvious puns in their writing?

In the story, Public Works Director Harold Hall is quoted as saying to the council: “You, as adults, know that we need these items in these buildings. These are items that you need to have in public facilities.”

I reckon that was the first time city council members needed to be reminded that toilet paper is a “necessity.” Isn’t it their doodie – sorry, won’t happen again – duty, to supply such items to their employees?

Imagine a world in which employees are forced to bring their own toilet paper to work.

We could line up our rolls in the restroom, carefully marked with initials so coworkers wouldn’t swipe it (Oops. Last time, I promise).

You know they would. It’s not like you thought anyone would ever eat that greenish tofu burger you left in the employee fridge, either, but look what happened to it.

We’d be forced to number each individual sheet so we’d know if someone took even a square for his or her personal use. We’d stop buying Charmin and begin buying toilet paper made from recycled sandpaper in an effort to keep our supply safe from poachers.

Memos would appear on the bulletin board: “Toilet paper memorandum No. 63. RE: It is rude to leave your coworkers hanging.”

When all else failed, we’d finally be forced to carry our roll tied to a fob on our belt to ensure no one touched it throughout the day.

Turns out, it wasn’t only Trenton police officers and firefighters — people actually trained for emergency situations such as ebbing toilet paper supplies — who were being left high-and-not-so-dry in municipal buildings. Supplies were starting to run low in the city’s senior centers and anyone who has ever seen a Vesicare commercial knows that when you reach a certain age, bathroom visits take on a certain urgency.

So even before the emergency order could be delivered, the seniors of Trenton were rescued by a donation from an organization called People for the Ethical Treatment of Those Charmin Bears Who, er, Go in the Woods, and Sometimes of People Who Find Themselves Without Toilet Paper, or PETA for short.

PETA donated a six-month supply of toilet paper to use in city buildings, with the condition that each sheet would read, “Slaughterhouses are so filthy that more than half of all meat is contaminated with fecal bacteria.”

I am familiar with the concept that some people do like to read in the restroom, but it seems this is one form of advertising that will, without doubt, go to waste.

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, though, was happy with PETA’s donation, and those from other companies, because, as he so wisely stated, toilet paper is a “fundamental issue in our community.” 

This is one point I think even the federal government could agree on, the right to wipe.

I was happy to see a no-nonsense comment from city purchase agent Marchelle Marshall, who said: “We all understand that tonight, we’re not going to have this problem again.”

At least she’s not taking any … fine.

I’ll let this be the end.