Thursday, May 4, 2017

Toilet Paper Predicament

Articles in newspapers, online, and TV news and commentary nowadays overflow with political content. I am interested in current events – to an extent. At this time, however, my mind is overburdened with politinonsense (my made up word for the syndrome).  So it is with relief when stories about other topics, besides sports and weather, catch my eye.

One particular story made me smile. Summarizing the article:

Who: Patrons of public rest room facilities
Bureaucrats responsible for maintaining services within budget.

What: Toilet paper (TP)

Where: China, specifically a public park in Beijing.

When: Recently

Why: Two reasons: People used too much TP, and toilet paper burglars were stealing more than 30 rolls of TP every day.
Something had to be done!

How (the solution): Facial recognition software was installed and is now used to allocate specific quantities of TP (a certain number of sheets) to each patron.

A rather unique solution to a worldwide problem facing modern industrialized countries. I doubt places where the toilet paper is scratchy and rough face this dilemma. As modern technology catches up with consumer demands and TP becomes softer, smoother and kinder to the skin, this issue turns into a major problem costing individuals, companies, and countries millions, if not billions and eventually trillions of dollars.

Using more than needed in rest rooms is probably common, although I have not yet taken a survey to validate my conclusion. I can say without a doubt that countless children use a lot more than necessary, finding amusement in streaming TP rolls all over rest room stalls.

Introducing machines that electronically dispense a certain amount of TP is an interesting concept. The Chinese devices are programmed so that it is not easy eliciting more TP if necessary or desired. The machines will not issue additional TP to the same person for nine minutes after the first distribution. In case of emergency extra TP may be requested from park personnel.

The machines have received mixed reviews. Not enough TP is issued to satisfy many users. Currently one-ply tissue is used; the park plans on upgrading to two-ply, which may satisfy most consumers. Critics worry the machines may be used for more ominous purposes, such as detecting dissidents, illegal aliens, students playing hooky from school, employees ducking out of work, and uncovering other deviants.

I am not advocating utilizing similar machines in public rest rooms throughout the United States, but there are advantages: domestic manufacturers would hire lots of workers to make the machines, additional workers would be employed to install, restock and maintain the devices, and staff would be needed to dispense additional TP when necessary. A new job-creating industry demanded by consumers!

Another advantage embraces environmental benefits. All those trees saved!

A service used by every man, woman, and child regardless of age, height, weight, gender, political persuasion or any other classification. A concern everyone everywhere can rally behind.

The one tissue issue which might, finally, unite our nation.

Of course there is the question of cost – who will pay for the machines and where will the money for maintenance come from? If places providing rest room amenities such as companies, recreational areas, government facilities, retail stores and restaurants, schools, etc. install machines, the companies and organizations paying for the TP today would save lots of money. The savings could cover the cost of the machines and on-going maintenance expenses.

I might consider installing a machine in my home. Before the summer. Before the grandkids arrive…

A final note on the subject from the cast of Seinfeld in this YouTube clip Can you Spare a Square?


  1. Haha, I had the same thought about installing such a machine before my grandchildren visit.

  2. In the coffee shop I frequent, I often notice that TP goes awfully fast. I'm surprised that people need so much of it, or maybe they don't realize that it's expensive. Or maybe they steal it. I think this is a good idea myself, thinking of saving trees! :-)

    1. We will see if anyplace, anywhere in the US install them...

  3. Oh that's too funny. As to saving the trees: I don't think the TP is made from any valuable trees like oak, or other hardwoods, but from trees specifically grown for that purpose. I hope it's made from Tulip Poplars, and if so, someone can come to my house and clear cut all the Poplars they want. (They regenerate very fast.) Guess the thing to do is make sure one has a few squares tucked away for emergencies. =^..^=

  4. Facial recognition software?? Really? Remember to smile!