Sunday, June 10, 2007

45 Rolls of Toilet Paper

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:26-27

So I get home from the grocery store the other day, and as I’m putting stuff away I realize that I’ve amassed 45 rolls of toilet paper. This isn’t a one-time thing but a consistent level I’ve maintained each time I go shopping. Mind you, we are a family of four; mom, dad and two girls, three and five. And those 45 rolls are just the ones in the main storage area on the shelf above the washer and dryer. There are also positive balances in all three bathrooms, mainly under the sink. Conservatively, I estimate there are 60+ rolls in our house on any given week.

Why the horde of white rolls? I’ve thought about this a lot this week (yes, I’m that busy) and I haven’t really come up with a single reason. If you know me at all, this revelation of Boy Scout like preparation is not a big surprise. In that same cabinet are 8 big boxes of tissues and 14 rolls of paper towels. Maybe it appeals to my sense of organization to see the nice, neat columns of white—my Parthenon of Charmin. There’s also a keen sense of security in knowing I’ll never be caught on the throne without…well, you know.

Apparently, paper products are not the only items I stock up on. My wife, Heatherly, is always suspicious of my insistence that we are running out jars of jam and jelly (there are 8 in the cupboard downstairs right now, not to mention the 3 or 4 open ones in the fridge). Mom insists I get this from my dad who apparently stocks up on jellies too (thanks, Dad).

But there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to the items I stock up on. There’s the 8 boxes of butter in the freezer (salted and unsalted), 30 lbs of flour (wheat, organic unbleached, bread) and the 25 lbs of jasmine rice in three separate containers in the cupboard.

I know it’s not a response to Homeland Defense to have a home emergency kit. We have no water stored away, no candles, batteries or emergency radio. And it’s not because as a child I had some traumatic experience to subliminally drive me to buy these certain items (well, not that I know of, nor would I or else it wouldn’t be subliminal – I’ll have to ask Mom and Dad about this one). The more I think about it, the more I suspect that amidst the craziness of life, stocking up gives me a small sense of control and security. I’ll never run out of toilet paper. Need jelly? Got it. And as long as the water is on and the gas is flowing, Heatherly can make bread to go with all that butter and jam.

If there’s ever an emergency situation, I only hope my neighbors stock up on things that I don’t. That way, we can combine our resources and hopefully survive. Pardon me while I go check with Pat and Lee to see if they have any extra water and salt.