Toilet paper is important...
It is my birthday...so in honor of this hallowed day, I want to tell you a story. It happened to me. I happened to it. Rather, I happened upon it just this last week. It goes something like this...
My family and I went out to dinner last week to the Olive Garden. It's America's version of vintage Italian. We had a gift certificate for $25 dollars with which to feed our family of 5. This proved to be quite difficult. After perusing the menu for a few minutes, we gave into the idea that we were going to have to spend about $10 more of our own money in order for this to work. The girls got their kids meals and Heidi and I decided to get the all-you-can-eat salad with that succulent house dressing. Every ingredient is baptized in this dressing which, I'm sure, takes away from the nutritional value of the salad making it equivalent to eating a quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds. But that is neither here nor there. Suffice it say, it's horribly wonderful!
There is only one drawback to me eating my fill of Olive Garden salad. And for some of you it could be a drawback that would keep you from eating the salad ever again, not so with me. This drawback is nothing other than IBS. This is not in any way associated with the IRS or CBS. It is the medical condition known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Few foods awaken this sleeping giant from it slumber within my rib cage/cave, but there's something about the combination of ingredients in this salad that calls it forth like Lazarus, and when it comes forth, let me tell you, it cometh forth!
We left the restaurant and decided to go to Barnes and Noble to read some books. It is only about two blocks down from the Olive Garden, but I assure you that if it was three blocks I could have soiled my pants. My stomach was contracting violently and my mental fortitude to convince my stomach to hold back from its expunging instinct was giving way by the second. I walked into the bookstore like I was walking with stilts, movements methodical and painful. I didn't make eye contact with anyone, I simply kept my Olympic-like focus and quickened my pace as I drew nigh to the bathrooms in the back left had corner of the establishment. The closer I got, the more my body desired to give birth. You know of what I speak. I seriously don't think I could have walked 2 more steps than I did to get to the toilet, I cut it razor close.
As I sat there thanking God for his mercy, I noticed the toilet dispenser to my left looking quite bare. It is one of those big plastic contraptions that has a reserve roll in case of emergency that can be pulled down into place, but to my horror, as I reached up into the container, the reserve roll was nothing but a cardboard nub. My mind cascaded into a spin cycle of trouble-shooting wondering how I was going to walk all hunched over into the next stall to find a much needed swath of toilet paper. As I sat there waiting for the bathroom to empty (there seemed to be two, maybe three, other users), I noticed a piece of paper towel to my right lying on the floor like a ram caught in the thicket. It couldn't have been bigger than an 8x10 piece, but I knew it would do the trick. I picked it up, investigated it to see if it had been used and if so, the degree to which it had been used, and proceeded to use it to cleanse myself of all infirmities. In that moment I seriously lifted up a prayer of thanks to God for his abundant provision. I think I heard him laugh, but I'm not sure.
I washed my hands with thrice the time and intensity I normally do, and proceeded to go browse some books in the new release section. But as the story goes, my bowels were not done with me yet. It didn't take but about 5 minutes to realize that I was going to have to revisit the boy's room and finish what I started. I moved swiftly to the back corner of the building, this time with a bit less desperation and a bit more reconnaissance under my belt. I turned the corner and made my way to "the other" stall making sure there was ample toilet paper to accommodate me. There was. As I sat down and started round two of number 2, I heard the door open up and the footsteps of a victim walking toward the other stall--the ill-equipped stall, the "you-don't-know-what-you're-getting-yourself-into" stall. He stepped inside, closed the door, slide the lock in place, put down the toilet seat, pulled down his pants, sighed a sigh of relief and took care of business. The whole time I just sat there filled with empathetic pity for this man's present state. He was like a sheep led to the slaughter house, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb.
I was about finished with my deal when I had a brilliant idea. I thought about unrolling a ton of toilet paper, wadding it up into a ball and rolling it under the partition. But that seemed a little over-the-top as I played out the situation in my head. Just then, another idea passed before my mind. I would unroll the toilet paper so that it would hang down below the partition inviting this man to grab ahold and yank down however much he desired. And that is what I did. I figured that I would expose about 12 inches of toilet paper so that when he figured out that his dispenser was empty and looked around in desperation for something to wipe with, he would spot this "white towel of surrender" conveniently hanging there as if to say, "Take me, Use me, I'm Yours."
As I pulled up my pants, I tapped the metal barrier to draw a little attention, and with that, I made my way to the sink to wash my hands and left the bathroom feeling good about my humanitarian aide. I don't know how the situation turned out. I almost faked like I left the bathroom so that I could listen to see how the events would unfold, but I was nervous that he would bend over and look under the stall walls seeing my feet standing there stalking him. I decided to just jet and leave it in "God's hands".
I think life is this simple. Helping other people. Learning from our own mistakes and pitfalls and joys and successes and helping others toward wholeness. Sometimes it's as simple as leaving about 10 inches of toilet paper under the splash guard to help a brother out. This is what I hope my life will mean when it's done...simple acts of aide to my fellowman that show I'm conscious of their plight and am seeking to sojourn with them in this cruel world that sometimes comes to us in the form of empty toilet paper dispensers.
Life is funny.