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 office 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.