To Wipe Or Not To Wipe is the Question Shakespeare Would Ask Himself Now

Glenridge Zehrs' paper aisle in mid-March. Photo by Ms Klassen.

Before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) became a pandemic, before borders were practically shut down, and before a state of emergency had been declared in the Waterloo Region, I can never remember a time in my life when I walked into a grocery store and found a product not in stock, let alone an entire SECTION of products not in stock.

These days, when you walk into a grocery store, you will find yourself staring down the cleaning aisle looking at nothing. This aisle is more deserted than you would find the school during March break.

Shortly after the pandemic became a major headline in the region, people began purchasing all the toilet paper they could find as though it had been nationally declared that the production of it was going to shut down and it would no longer exist.

Toilet paper has become such a hot commodity that it seems to have a higher worth than gold! If people would have invested in toilet paper production, they would have suddenly found themselves rich overnight as all the stock within Canada was suddenly bought out in a frenzy like never seen before.

A day or two after the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Waterloo Region, about March 19th, I went out to a store to pick up toilet paper and other groceries. Little did I know when I went looking for this coveted item, I would find the aisle completely barren. Upon this shocking discovery, I laughed and shook my head with mirth, realizing my mistake of even hoping to find some.

Another day or so later, I went with my girlfriend to about six more stores from one end of Kitchener to the other end of Waterloo, there was not a roll to be found anywhere. After this adventure, my family and I came to a decision: we bought Kleenex at Home Depot and we would live with it for as long as we needed to. For some reason, people hadn’t decided to panic buy Kleenex to nearly the same extent they had done with toilet paper.

Empty toilet paper shelves at Stanley Park Zehrs. Photo by Kaylee Ainsworth.

Now that people have clued in to how silly this is, there have been numerous videos involving the trading of toilet paper and hand sanitizer for large sums of money or other illicit goods. There have even been new rules put into place within the online marketplaces of Kijiji and eBay to prohibit the selling of these goods at a raised price. (Some people who had bought hundreds of dollars worth of toilet paper and hand sanitizer began selling them at prices upwards of eighty dollars a roll and a hundred dollars a bottle.) Imagine being able to make a day’s wage by selling a single roll of toilet paper! What an age we live in, eh?

When this rule came into place, there was actually a huge outcry against it. There were people who went as far as attempting to sue Kijiji and eBay because they felt that their rights were being infringed upon with the banning of them selling toilet paper. Now that people have enough toilet paper to wipe their bums into the new millennium, the fad of buying a cart at a time seems to have slowed. Also, different stores have introduced rules of limiting the purchases of these products to one or two items per customer, and this may have been what slowed this process of stockpiling considerably.

Photo by Kaylee Ainsworth.

Those people who didn’t initially swarm the store are now finally able to buy toilet paper themselves. This, of course, only comes after having had to spend a week or two finding creative ways to clean themselves after a stinker.

I personally have heard many people say it’s a good thing they kept all those socks that no longer have a match, or even say they finally have a use for granny’s many knitting endeavours. (That’s just cruel!)

To all of you who did stockpile toilet paper and left the rest of us behind with none: You are truly a unique pain in the butt.

To those who had to find interesting ways to clean (including resorting to a bidet-like set-up): I salute your ingenuity and invite you to call yourselves the MacGyver of the hindquarters.