Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Story Of The Worst Toilet Paper I've Ever Used

Never buy generic-brand toilet paper. That is the one lesson I'm carrying with me into the new year.

In mid-November, I was shopping at a nearby drugstore that was advertising a sale on toilet paper. It was the store's brand, and it was significantly cheaper than the mainstream names we're all familiar with: Charmin, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Cottonelle, Scott. You've used those brands. I've used those brands. We're all comfortable with those brands. 

This time, I chose differently. I chose the store brand. It was generic in so many ways. The name on the packaging wasn't in a large, friendly font. The plastic wrapping wasn't especially colorful. It didn't have illustrations of an infant or a brown bear cuddling with toilet paper.

If you ever come face to face with a bear, toss it a roll of Charmin and it will leave you alone.

But it was cost-effective, which, in that moment, was good enough for me. I picked up a package of 12 rolls and carried it to my apartment. (Carrying toilet paper in New York City is nearly as challenging as carrying boxes of cereal.) I ripped open the wrapping, removed one of the rolls, inserted it into the dispenser in my bathroom, and stored the remaining rolls in my closet.

As it happened, my first opportunity to test out my new toilet paper came rather quickly. Let me tell you, it was the most harrowing toilet paper experience of my life. I say that without the slightest hint of exaggeration. I've used public bathrooms at bus stations. I've used public bathrooms at rest stops. I've used a portable toilet in the middle of a field at an outdoor music festival. This toilet paper was the worst.

It wasn't soft. It wasn't absorbent. It wasn't durable. It was torture. There's no way a bear would cuddle with this brand of toilet paper. 

It was a struggle, but somehow, someway I was able to make it off the toilet. To be stranded in a bathroom, with a worthless roll of toilet paper and little else, really tested my resolve. I felt a little like Bear Grylls. Who, I am certain, would also never cuddle with this brand of toilet paper.

A bear and a Bear. No sign of drugstore-brand toilet paper. 

The toilet paper could not stay in my home. I had to get rid of it, all of it: the roll on the dispenser and the 11 rolls in the closet. One thousand sheets per unused roll. That's an awful lot of awful toilet paper.

What exactly was I supposed to do with the rolls, though? Return them? I couldn't; the packaging was torn. Throw them out? That wasn't my preference. I didn't want to waste them. I first wanted to see if there was anyone who could make use of the toilet paper, even toilet paper as shoddy as this one was.

I had an idea. I brought the package to the office of a non-profit located around the corner from me. I knew it accepted monetary donations, but I wasn't sure if it accepted goods, like, say, thousands and thousands of sheets of low-grade TP. It was worth checking out.

Turns out, the organization does accept thousands and thousands of sheets of low-grade TP. I handed over all of the rolls to a volunteer, who seemed grateful for the donation. I have to say, it was very rewarding to help out a non-profit by giving it toilet paper, just as I'm sure it was very rewarding for the non-profit to help me out by taking my toilet paper.

The donation, by the way, took place on my birthday. I turned 36 and I celebrated the occasion by delivering 11 rolls of generic-brand toilet paper. It was the most memorable birthday I've had in a while. 

It won't happen again this year, though. For my 37th birthday, I'm sticking with bear-approved toilet paper.

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