Thursday, July 23, 2009

Indignities of Modern Life


You know how you go to parties as an undergrad and people ask you what historical period you wish you could have been born in and because you're a woman you have to say "well, duh, women have always been oppressed and right now is the best of the worst so I'll just stay right here in contemporary postmodernity and besides I'm severely myopic with very crooked teeth and club foot besides so I need all the modern medical interventions I can get hold of just to be halfway socially competent [insert righteous and rueful sniff here]"?


There are some indignities inherent in hyper-rational late capitalist living that, really, I've had just about enough of.

For example. Giant toilet paper dispensers (and the attendant giant toilet paper rolls) in public washrooms. These would not be so bad, I imagine, if there were not a concomitant great increase in the flimsiness of the paper. I understand how this situation came about, I do. Giant dispenser (and the attendant giant rolls) means a pee-er is far less likely to be stuck, dribbling and helpless, asking for a neighbour to 'spare a square' so that quick exit can be taken from the stall of shame. I get it: bigger dispenser (bigger rolls) means the statistical probability of being caught without is greatly diminished. The paper is flimsy because--duh--flimsy paper is a lot cheaper to produce. However. When you combine this giant dispenser (giant roll) with a flimsy paper, what do you get? You get a heavy object, inert on a cheap-ass plastic spindle, that you must set into motion by pulling on something thinner and less strong than spiderweb.

So you reach your hand into the cavern of the dispenser, clutch at the gossamer-thin paper tissue, and tentatively pull. A one-inch square of ripped paper tightly grasped between thumb and forefinger is the result, and likely, you've now scraped your hand against the serrated edge of the dispenser. The floor is littered with these one-inch squares of toilet paper confetti, a testament to your membership in the club of peepee hygiene futility. Welcome, sister: we are legion, we are annoyed.

After much contortion and many tiny ripped and discarded squares later (perhaps if you're lucky, you'll slip on some of these later, or get them stuck on your shoes), you succeed in setting the roll in motion, and in extracting from the maw of the dispenser the required amount of tissue. Congratulations. Your next challenge is to separate this handful from the mother ship. You realize now that the edge of the dispenser is serrated because the tissue itself does not come in the convenient pre-punched rippable squares that make ass-wiping at home such a straightforward and rewarding procedure. No. Your must forcibly shear the tissue.

This is harder than it would seem: after all, you have just arranged the paper to its maximum strength so that you could pull it out from the dispenser in the first place. You have, that is, instinctively strengthened it by twisting into something quite resembling the paper ribbon of 90s crafting fame.

This paper ribbon resists the plastic teeth of the serrated edge, which seem, after all, much better suited to the tearing of human flesh than to the tearing of industrial toilet paper.

Give it a big yank.

Dab your bloody thumb-bone with the still attached tissue. Marvel that paper can be so strong as to visibly loosen a giant plastic dispenser laden with 20 pounds of cargo attached with numerous bolts to a steel frame when tugged. This, if all goes well and you manage to unwrap it enough to be able, using both hands, to rip it apart from the giant roll, you will wipe your delicate girl parts with, so that you don't smell like a hobo when you limp back to your office (you're limping because you slid on all those tiny bits of paper strewn on the slick tile floor, and bonked your knee ... against the giant toilet paper dispenser conveniently located to almost completely block your egress from the stall).

I'm mad as hell, and I'm carrying wads of premium bathroom tissue in my purse.

(And don't get me started on how no one in this advanced technological society can seem to make a stall-door fastener that doesn't need to be replaced with some jerry-rigged 19th century kludge of a contraption four or five times a year. How hard can it be to make a stall door that closes and stays closed, and then opens when you need it to? I told you not to get me started!)


Janet said...

You shall be easy to spot with your brisk indignance and premium toilet paper trailing from your bag. ;)

I had a stall door open on me just today, mid-pee. Classy.

cinnamon gurl said...

It's funny: I always thought the rationale for those enormous roles of scratchy, flimsy toilet paper was purely to deter theft - that's why they're so ubiquitous on campuses. The work required to carry them home is just not worth it (not that I speak from experience or anything).

And on the stall door -- this morning I found myself on campus. In fact, it was the first time I found myself on the fifth floor of the library since I was actually a student. I had to pee -- and the door would not stay closed. I think it was also the first time I've had to hold a bathroom door closed since I was a student.

Omaha Mama said...

My FIVE year old kindergartner was having some...ahem...issues which it turned out to be caused by her inability to get some toilet paper after going potty at school! Luckily we figured it out and her blessed teacher made a fun secret out of a secret roll that kids could get pre-stall entrance. It was a happy ending to a frustrating story!

Patti said...

Ahhhh, bathroom rants.

The stuff of which the very BEST blog posts are created.


Kyla said...

Public bathrooms, GEEZ! So many things to complain about, really.

NotSoSage said...

So...this is all just hypothetical, right?

I thought so.

Bon said...

dude. this was a work of art. a rant of rants. i bow. try not to notice the toilet paper stuck in the back of my pants as i do.

Beck said...

Those JUMBO TP ROLLS drive me nuts. They don't ROLL. I will submit your post to The Powers That Be as proof that the Jumbo TP Roll is resented by Correct-Thinking Individuals everywhere.

slouchy said...

Snort. Funniest thing I've read in a long time.