Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Problem of 1 Ply Toilet Tissue


During this post I will be pushing the limits of decency. The intent is not to discuss a taboo topic but to help you grasp some of the issues that those in the service face daily. As a member of the United States military, I have taken an oath to defend the nation against enemies both foreign and domestic. I am currently deployed to Pakistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan for those who may have lived in a cave, no pun intended, for the last 10 years).
There are certain advantages to this location; the biggest difference is the living conditions in Pakistan are far better than that of Iraq or Afghanistan. The drawback of course is living off of the economy, which is military speak for “there is no chow hall so good luck.” The obvious drawback to this is that we get to eat exotic foods, by exotic I mean poorly stored and prepared in less than sanitary conditions. It also means that the water is bad. By bad I mean the tanks at our house currently have green stuff and bugs growing in them.


While Pakistan is considered a high risk environment, I am not afraid of road side bombs, mortars, or rocket attacks. Now I am concerned with another type of explosion, one that can be just as devastating to moral and mental wellbeing. Yes, I am talking about explosive diarrhea. Feel free to continue reading because this blog will not focus on that and I will not go into further detail about color or consistency. But it is important to my post, “the problem with 1 ply toilet paper.” The reason I bring this up is that it is hard for the average person to relate to.


“What” you say, no extra soft quilted multi-ply toilet tissue (ESQMPTT) in Pakistan? The answer is yes but it is hard to find and it is not cheap. I know that is hard to relate when you live in the land of Quilted Northern, but here in the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad, Pakistan we get only the finest (and cheapest) 1 ply tissue. You can actually see through it. Which brings me to the real point, can it actually be cheaper for the government to buy Chuck Norris toilet paper then ESQMPTT. After all, we are spending billions of dollars a year to help Pakistan.


Here is my point, let us say you eat or drink something that seeks to annihilate your large and small intestines. Let us also say that you go to the bathroom at least 8-10 times a day because if you gamble you know the house always wins. Let us say that on average it takes 5 decent wipes (the output breaks the sound barrier based on the sonic boom at the end). Each wipe takes a solid 10 wraps of 1 ply tissue to ensure proper coverage and absorption (after all it is in the liquid form). Then you add the number of Embassy employees, we will round it off at an even 500, most of which are in the same fight whether they are state department of ODRP. So let’s do the math.


Ten times to the john multiplied by 5 decent wipes equals 50 decent wipes.
50 decent wipes multiplied by 10 solid wraps of 1 ply tissue equals 500 solid wraps.
500 solid wraps of 1 ply multiplied by 500 people equals 250,000 solid wraps of 1 ply.
Think about that 250,000 wraps of 1 ply.


Now consider that you could reduce that by half using ESQMPTT. True it would be the same amount of paper overall, but the element of comfort has been added. My point is that we probably go through the same amount of paper whether it is single or ESQMPTT. Plus I believe it would reduce chafing by 30%.


I know that there is possibly a margin of error in my estimates, but no more than +/- 5% but that I wanted to keep you informed of some of the sacrifices service members make to defend our great country.

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