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Thank You Charmin

By Chuck Clegg - | Mar 3, 2021

Before you let your mind stray too far at the title of this week’s column, let me set you at ease. This story is about an act of kindness from a stranger. In fact, I have no idea at all who did this kindness for me.

Let me start at the beginning. Mary asked if I would pick up a few things from the store. Her list included red grapes, things to fix for breakfast and toilet paper.

When I came to the display of toilet paper I was puzzled as to which to choose. Soft and absorbent, or gentle to your skin and kind to the environment. All good things. Then there is the important question of price. Every good shopper needs to compare price with quality. After all, that is all you really get to decide first hand by reading the labels. Unless you are one of those shoppers who pokes their finger into the package to feel the softness of the paper. WARNING, BEWARE OF PAPER POKERS!!!!!

As I stood looking at the paper, I wanted to be cool and not appear to be reading the labels on toilet paper. I am not one of those shoppers who does a walk by grab of whatever product is closest. But, yet I wanted not to tarry long in front of the display of Angel Soft. After all, we each need the product, yet we seldom talk about, or like being seen buying it. I guess we are self-conscious of someone knowing we answer natures call. Just not cool I guess.

Let me wipe the slate clean and tell you a little about toilet paper and its history before I continue my story. Before soft paper, grass, leaves, clam shells and stones were used.

As you might imagine none of these came on a roll or were angel soft. The first use of paper was believed to be in the fourteenth century when a Chinese emperor wanted to clean up his act. He had personal paper created in 2 by 3 feet sections. You have to remember they had a lot of roughage in their diets 700 years ago.

Sears and Roebuck catalogues not only brought to the public the ability to mail order many things, it gave you something to read while waiting for nature to call. After taking care of business you could take care of your business with a page from the shoe section. The Farmer’s Almanac of the time was made with a hole in them so they could be hung in the outhouse.

In 1857, sheets of paper were first packaged and advertised as medicated paper. Later in 1880, perforated paper was sold on a roll and introduced to the public. Unfortunately it was not until 1935, could toilet paper be advertised as a splinter free product. Before that it was a prickly subject for its users.

Do you know that in 1973 we experienced a toilet paper shortage in this country? It started when a congressman believed if the government did not get its bidding process in place and renew the toilet paper contract; it would run short of its supply in a few months. Johnny Carson’s staff writers picked up on this and included a joke that toilet paper according to a government source was in short supply. Next day store shelves were wiped clean. The whole supply of toilet paper in the country was flushed away over night. It took several weeks for the supply shortage to get back to normal.

The past year has reminded us that toilet paper is an important part of our lives. You would think we would have learned a lesson of supply and demand after the Carson incident. But no such luck. Store shelves for several months last spring were nearly empty and limits were placed on the number of rolls you could purchase. I’ll bet some of you reading this story may still have a years’ worth of paper just in case there is another shortage.

Why all the fuss about toilet paper? No real reason, I just want to clean up the facts before I tell you about my Charmin kindness at the store. As I looked at the many different brands for sale I noticed a 25Ç coupon laying on a package of Charmin. I realized a nice person had left it there for someone to use. Someone like me. After all 25Ç saved is 25Ç earned. I could go home and tell my wife I cleaned up at the store with a free coupon.

I don’t know who the person was that left it there for me to find, but I want them to know I appreciate their kindness and may all their papers be skin soft and splinter free. I decided that I will leave a coupon on the toilet paper display for someone else to use. I guess you could say I am paying it forward. Who knows, it might help some person who just has to go … and I won’t be looking Through the Lens.