Do not call 911 because you ran out of toilet paper. This is a stern warning from the Newport, Oregon, Police Department.

“It’s hard to believe that we even have to post this,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “Do not call 9-1-1 just because you ran out of toilet paper. You will survive without our assistance. In fact, history offers many other options for you in your time of need if you cannot find a roll of your favorite soft, ultra plush two-ply citrus scented tissue.”

As pretty much everyone with a pulse knows right now, panic buying of water and bath tissue has led to empty shelves everywhere, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The department suggested corncobs, magazine pages, grocery receipts and cloth rags, and also suggests that Mother Earth magazine will teach you how to make it from leaves.

“Be resourceful,” the police department urges. “Be patient. There is a TP shortage. This too shall pass. Just don’t call 9-1-1. We cannot bring you toilet paper.”

I don’t know how many of you have stood in lines that wend all the way around the outside of your local Costco, but it seems to have turned into quite an avocation. On Saturday, my friend canceled our weekly trip to weigh in at Weight Watchers and then to eat lunch, because she didn’t want to be exposed to the virus. Instead, she went and got in line with 500 other people, trying to get into Costco to buy water bottles and bath tissue. Certainly, no exposure issues there.

Well, now that everything fun to do has been shut down and the stock market crash has made everyone poor, at least the hunt gives people something to do. It’s like a scavenger hunt at a party.

“They’re unloading a truck full of water bottles at Target right now!” my friend whispers into the phone before hanging up and getting in line. It reminds me of the olden days in the Soviet Union, when their top-down Communist economy led to constant shortages. In fact, when people walking down the street saw a line outside a store, they just walked over and got in the line. They didn’t even care what they were waiting for. They just knew that one of their friends or family would want it.

Nowadays, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s starting to happen here. I mean, really. Pasta? How much pasta do you actually need? And toilet paper? How many rolls are in your garage right now? And what substitutes are out there, now that you can’t get a Sears catalog mailed to you?

Personally, I would like to suggest pages from tax booklets or the use of spray nozzles.

I was in India last year and was mystified as to why there was never any TP in private homes. It was a bit of a pickle. I mean, you didn’t want to walk up to your hostess and say, “Excuse me but how do I wipe my tush in your fine country?”

I was embarrassed, but I finally asked our tour guide and she explained that Indians use a water nozzle mounted next to every toilet to rinse off. That, in fact, they find toilet paper to be highly unsanitary. I’m sure this is heartbreaking to the toilet paper companies that would love to break into the huge 1.3 billion people Indian market, but it would be mighty convenient right now.

Did it ever in your life occur to you that you’d be stressing out over toilet paper as a result of the COVID-19 virus you never even heard about until now?

This is why it’s basically pointless to worry, my friends. Because nothing you stay up nights worrying about will ever happen.

  • No, you will not get a brain tumor (well, OK I did get one, but I never worried about it beforehand).
  • No, your daughter will not get abducted by Bedouin marauders while she’s on a school trip in Egypt.
  • No, you will not get into a horrible mangled wreck on the drive to San Diego, unless you sucked down a bottle of wine beforehand.

Don’t bother to worry. You can’t predict the future. Things never happen the way you fear. Just go make yourself a “quarantini," with some gin and 1000 mg of Vitamin C. And don’t feel guilty about it.

You all know that drinking alone is a sign of alcoholism. But in this case, the governor of California is basically forcing you to drink alone, since he shut down all the bars. So, for the length of this crisis, feel free to tipple alone.  And, even after this weird period in history is over, keep in mind that it’s not really “drinking alone” if the dogs are home.

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