[Greetings from the road! Another writing exercise posting while I am getting saddle-sore. (And loving every minute of it!]
A thought struck me this morning when I was reading a blog about positivism and hope and sunshiny goodness. The blogger was going on about how much she has grown in a year’s time and in the past several years of creating and maintaining her blog. Somehow that got me to thinking about how much I have grown in the past several years as well.
When I think on where I was a few years ago now, I can’t believe that I was the same human being then. Things were so vastly different. And when I get in a funk these days, I try to get myself out of it as quickly as possible. The only way to do that really is to listen to music, call my mom, or think about toilet paper.
I hear you on the last one, but stay with me on this. Toilet paper brings back some very interesting memories of growth and maturity for me, and I’ll tell you why.
When I was living in Durham with that horrible creature, The Roommate, and her lackluster slob of a boyfriend, The Jerk, life almost couldn’t get any worse. Not only was I unhappy with how things had turned out with The Roommate, my job also ended up being something along the lines of a dead end secretary position. My boss was a snotty blond woman who annoyed me to no end. Her younger sister who helped out wasn’t much better. The other women were fine, so long as you didn’t get into long debates with them. I tried to keep to myself and not be bored out of my mind with all the work they had assigned to me.
It was with this job that I learned to turn work into play. I made games out of scanning documents. I tried to see how many papers I could scan every half hour. The next time I would try and beat my previous score. If I didn’t beat it, no problem, there was always the next thirty minutes to repeat the process.
Back to the toilet paper- neither The Roommate or I had good paying jobs. She even worked two jobs to make ends meet. Even with the both of us living and working, our collected efforts weren’t amounting to much. Our paychecks ran opposite ends of the spectrum making the middle of the month the hardest part to get thru. It was near Christmas and we were running around trying to find gifts for our families and friends. While I’m pretty sure it was The Roomate's turn to go out and buy groceries and paper goods, I’m not entirely sure. So I won’t place the blame on her shoulders. (At least not on this occasion.) She ended up spending her (our) grocery money on expensive books for her siblings as presents. There were several days until my next paycheck, and we had next to nothing to eat, and we were completely out of toilet paper.
I will tell you right now that Kleenex tissues and napkins are poor substitutes for the real thing. And don’t even try paper towels unless you are in serious need of exfoliating your ass.
For one or two nights we made due with napkins and in the morning, we’d hold it until we got to work. I kept thinking, “This is ridiculous. Living like this makes no sense. Why didn’t The Roommate save some of her money to at least buy necessities? She knew we were out of toilet paper. Come to think of it, I could have saved some of my money, too.”
Realizing that two people were so utterly broke that they couldn’t buy toilet paper was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I realized then that I had to do something to get out of that hell that I had found myself in. I didn’t know what would be down the road for me as far as jobs and living arrangements went. I just knew that I’d be damned if I was ever going to hunt around for something to wipe my ass with.
Eventually, The Roommate got wise and stole a roll of toilet paper from her work bathroom. (I had no way of smuggling a roll out from where I worked. Although I did consider it for a time.) And at the end of the week, I got my holy, but solemn, paycheck.
And I bought some damn Scott’s 2-ply, bucko. I now know how Scarlet O’Hara felt in Gone with the Wind, as she held up her dirty fist to the sky and declared with ‘God as my witness!’ Indeed today I am doing the very same thing. “With God as my witness! I shall never go wipe-less again!”
So- while I am still not fit as a fiddle, I am still not making a million dollars a year, and I still don’t have a husband with 2.5 children running about, or a Pulitzer Prize winner under my strained belt- I at least have toilet paper. And that’s enough for me.