About this blog

From telecommuting to the new public home school model, a growing number of us are homebound for the foreseeable future as we take unprecedented steps to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the new coronavirus that is sweeping the world. This blog is our attempt to catalog some of the daily changes we are experiencing together. If you want to share your story with us, email us at newsroom@indexjournal.com.

When the roll is called up yonder

Well, it appears Matt Hensley and I are both on a roll.

Apparently he and I, despite being separated by a lake and not having frequent visits within the newsroom at the I-J, are equally fascinated with the end of times. Er, I mean the end of rolls. Toilet paper rolls, to be more specific.

A few weeks back, Wendy and I ventured to Costco in Greenville for what was supposed to be a normal day of bulk purchasing. No 100-pound bags of rice or 40-gallon cans of baked beans needed in this house of two, but Costco does afford us the chance to do what my Depression-era grandfather taught me: buy as if gas is still rationed and sheep are your lawnmowers.

OK, no sheep at our house, but we did load up on paper towels, facial tissue and toilet paper. Mind you, none of this was in preparation for COVID-19. It was, as I said, a normal shopping excursion that included a few other items. Well, except for the 75-inch diagonal smart TV Wendy said we did not need. Oh, and it did not include one thing I suggested, but which she said we had plenty of at the time. Hindsight being what it is, that bulk pack of six or 12 disinfectant wipes would have been a wise purchase.

Anyway, based on Matt's Google University research — he has a master's, by the way — and our own experience, I've decided to further economize on the bulk buy. I was inspired by a funny email sent my way. "I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on 'Wheel of Fortune,'" it said. "Now I turn it like I'm cracking a safe."


So I've taken to rationing the TP at home. I wish we'd bought 3-ply, but that's bad on the sewer system. If we had, though, I could peel the layers and allocate 5 squares of 1-ply for the No. 1 duty, 12 squares of 2 ply for the No. 2.

Sure hope we can get back to Costco, safely, before the last roll is called up yonder.

End rolls are not for end of times

For 20-plus years at the Index-Journal, apparently something the late pennywise former controller Richard Jackson started, employees and guests have had to dry their hands with leftover newsprint.

In this business, we have what we call end rolls of newsprint. They are to newspapers what those last three or four sheets of toilet paper are to you at home.

But Jackson did not want them to go to waste. We actually sell the rolls. Some people use them to pack dishes and other breakables when moving, some use them for outdoor tablecloths — great for a crab leg feast, by the way, but only when you can have a large gathering of people in, say, October — and some teachers have used them in art class.

Anyway, in the men's rooms at the I-J, the rolls are set upon a shelf. We guys just tear off a section, dry our hands and toss 'em into the trash can. In the women's rooms, it has become customary to cut the paper into nice-sized squares and place them in — are you ready for this? — old free-standing newspaper racks. Not the ones that take coins, but rather the ones that used the honor system and held a dozen or so papers.

Anyway, the running joke was that while many would prefer the paper towel rolls most of us are accustomed to in our public bathroom visits, at least Richard did not see fit to find a way to use the end rolls of newsprint within the confines of the stalls.

But in what seems a desperate time amid the coronavirus, who knows?

Next: "Toilet Paper, Part II: The Home Experience."

The Great Toilet Paper Caper

CLINTON — Shelves once flush with bathroom tissue now sit bare.

Like an increasingly endangered species, the consumer good seems to have vanished right before our eyes.

But where did it all go?

I know: It's at Bill's house and Fred's house!

Well, maybe. But based on a copious amount of time at Google University, it sounds as though the situation is more complicated.

With so many workplaces closed and officer workers telecommuting, we have fundamentally changed where we go to the john.

While watching a rerun of "Family Feud" — my wife has rediscovered her love of game shows and we apparently now get the Game Show Network — one of the show's unscientific surveys had a startling result: people relieve themselves at work as often as three times a day.

That's not the only place we do it. People use the restroom at stores and schools, in restaurants — it's like we've surrounded our modern lives with toilets!

Now, a lot of us aren't visiting the little boy's or girl's room outside of the house.

What does all of that have to do with toilet paper?

Well, what you buy at the store for your home supply is very different from what you wipe with in public. And it's not just that some come on giant rolls.

The fibers that businesses provide to their customers are far more — ahem — utilitarian than what you pick up at Walmart. They are also packaged for bulk sale and are distributed through a network unlikely to reach your nearest grocery.

It takes time to change how much homestyle paper is produced and manufacturers haven't been able to catch up with the shift in demand.

Yes, there absolutely is panic buying, too. That so many people rushed to the store when shelves were starting to empty made the situation worse. But that's not at the core of what we're seeing.

Now can someone toss me a loaner roll? I gotta go.

Earlier posts

SIMPSONVILLE — We take for granted some of the things we do every day. In the times we find ourselves, we look to innovation to help get us through these challenges. Some industries were innovating their approach far ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

LAURENS — It looked like Walmart had prepared for an onslaught of looters or zombies, perhaps in an effort to keep the toilet paper safe. Employees had barricaded the entrance with turned over carts wrapped in yellow caution tape. Read more

For the nearly five years I spent at the Index-Journal, it was a conversation Matt Hensley and I had often. Read more

For the love of peace, this is NOT a “coronacation.” And, forgive the words I may utter, or the swiftness my hand will slap you six-ways-to Sunday should you proclaim it so. Read more

It’s awful quiet around the Index-Journal office these days. Read more

CLINTON — We look like something akin to a shabby, celebrity-less "Hollywood Squares" or a Brady Bunch knock-off as each newswriter and editor takes turns being among the four people on screen. Read more

Like a lot of folks, I tweak my daily song selection to honor a beloved talent when their life comes to an end. Read more

It's hard to find humor in much of anything these days, but do so if you can. Laughter, as we old-timers learned thanks to columnists such as Lewis Grizzard and Erma Bombeck, is indeed the best medicine. Don't laugh at anyone else's plight in these trying times, naturally, but it's good to find a laugh or smile moment as we move through these trying times. Read more

SIMPSONVILLE — Staying at home, whether because of working remotely or just to stay away from others during this contagious time, can provide a welcome opportunity to get in the kitchen and cook something delicious. Read more

ABBEVILLE – This reminds me of those handicaps older neighborhood kids use when playing with younger kids to make the competition even. Read more

This work-from-home plan is on its third day for me. I didn't even make it through the weekend before I had to escape. I opted to jump from the print and digital world and into the world of broadcast, with a visit to Dave Fezler at Sunny 103.5 this morning. Read more

SIMPSONVILLE — Working from home isn’t as easy as you would think. Challenges abound as our social distancing disconnects us from the human interaction that we see daily. Read more

Admittedly, I was among those on the front line urging that we abandon ship. We have no children on board, but plenty of women. Still, I wasn't being chivalrous in suggesting we get the heck out of the Index-Journal offices soon with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

CLINTON — I thought I could make it work, I really did. But it only took a day for me to cave. Read more

About this blog

From telecommuting to the new public home school model, a growing number of us are homebound for the foreseeable future as we take unprecedented steps to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the new coronavirus that is sweeping the world. This blog is our attempt to catalog some of the daily changes we are experiencing together. If you want to share your story with us, email us at newsroom@indexjournal.com.



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