Robyn Sedger

It was Friday 20th March 2020 and we had joined the other “disadvantaged” folk in our community to shop for toilet paper at our local supermarket at the “special” Senior’s time of 7 to 8am.  Things were looking grim in the toilet paper stakes at our place.  Having pompously decided previously that we were above hoarding we foolishly told ourselves that “things would settle down eventually”.  Ha!!  Nothing settled down and with our resources rapidly dwindling I found myself frantically looking for alternatives to tp.  Aha, I thought, the phone book has nice thin pages.  We can use that.  I’d previously used the phone book to raise the height of the computer monitor as phone books had (note the past tense) no other use for me before now.  Alas, no phone book, must have thrown it into the recycling bin!

What to do?  Newspaper not an option (too inky on my bum), and anyway who buys newspapers now?  Tissues also not an option, they clog up the septic tank.  With a smirk on their face that Scomo would be proud of, others informed us that they always bought in bulk at a wholesalers and therefore had plenty of tp stock – smarties!  Facebook friends gleefully described how they were cutting up old tee shirts & stitching up towelling squares for ‘No 1’s’.  Ye gods, we thought, has it come to this!!

So, there we were, walking from the carpark of the local shopping centre, brandishing our senior’s cards and patting ourselves on the back that we had managed to arrive at 6.30 for a 7am opening.  We’ll be sure to beat everyone else we said – ha again!  We were greeted with a queue waiting to get into the shopping centre doors; the before said doors guarded by a security officer standing with his arms folded and wearing a smirk – what is it with the smirks these days!  At a signal completely invisible to most of us, 2 people began to move forward towards the doors and, like a herd of sheep we all followed.  Did the sight of a crowd of 70 plus seniors complete with walking sticks, walking frames and scooters marching towards him create the slightest disturbance in the security officer?  Well, yes, the smirk became bigger!!  The folded arms remained in situ.

The doors opened at exactly 7am and the crowd surged forward.  After all, the crowd was getting pretty fidgety by now!  Filled with hope and a sure sense that justice would prevail on this day, we joined the slow movement of people towards the supermarket entrance.  After all, we’d been good, hadn’t panic shopped, hadn’t hoarded, hadn’t beaten other shoppers up for the precious tp supplies.  Surely, after days of searching, we’ll be taking home a pack of the precious stuff today we told ourselves.

Alas, it was not to be.  The store manager walked out and announced that there was no stock of tissues, no paper towels and, you got it – NO TOILET PAPER!!  No!!!!!  Well, at least he didn’t have a smirk on his face.

Did we wail and smite him?  Did we push him over and storm the back store room?  No, we slunk back to our car, thinking that all those gum leaves on our place that caused such a fire hazard a few short weeks ago may come in useful after all.

But wait: not the end of the story!  I hate nasty endings in movies and in books, and I’m sure some of you share that sentiment. So, there is a happy ending to our story. Our lovely neighbour had managed to grab, severe rheumatoid arthritis notwithstanding, the last pack on the shelf the day before and had kindly offered to share it with us.  No, we’re independent, resourceful, stoic women, we thought.  We’ll be right we told her!  Ha! 

Here’s the happy ending: While searching in vain for chicken for her dogs and cats in another supermarket the next day, our neighbour asked for assistance.  The shop assistant disappeared into the store room and returned with some chicken pieces and, you guessed it, A PACK OF TOILET PAPER, which she popped into the ‘lovely neighbour’s’ trolley.  A short while later I returned from the local hall, where I had been conducting my good works for the day, to find sitting ceremoniously on our dining table, in all its glory and majestic purple and white packet – a pack of the beautiful paper stuff!  Where did this come from, I asked?

With only a thin margin of a few meagre sheets of tp between dignity and an undignified ending, we were saved from disaster by the ‘lovely neighbour’ who has now been renamed as our ‘glorious, lovely neighbour’.