Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Toilet Paper Roll Every time I walk into a bathroom my eyes are always drawn to the same thing, the toilet paper roll. I check each time I enter a restroom to see whether the person who put the roll on actually took time to think about how to put it on or just merely threw it on any old way. To my dismay, I often find that people don't think about what they are doing when they put the toilet paper on the roll. If more people took the time to think about how the toilet paper would best serve its purpose while on the roll they would undoubtedly place the roll with the paper coming over the top. Not only does the roll look tidier this way; it is also much more accessible and handy.

Just think of how toilet paper on the roll should look. When you think of it, isn't the paper is rolling over the top and hanging nicely a few inches below the roll? I mean, when was the last time you saw a commercial where the toilet paper is rolling behind the roll down the wall? Well maybe that is because the people making the commercial thought about how the roll could best serve its purpose and still maintain a clean, tidy look.

Now think of how a roll looks when it rolls behind the roll and down the wall. The problem with this is that the end of the paper is hidden and I can't see it plainly like I could if the position of the roll were reversed. Also, I am not sure how the end is torn. Did the tear follow the perforated line that it was supposed to follow or did the tear run awry into another unused yet now ruined square of toilet paper? Now when the position of the roll is reversed, I can plainly see how the tear is made because it is right there in front of my face. And if the tear does begin to get off line I can easily adjust to save the unused square and leave the toilet paper with a nice clean edge thus leaving the condition of the bathroom untainted.

Now that I have explained the aesthetic value of positioning the roll with the paper rolling over the top, let's look a little into the utility of the roll. Let's look first at how many people obtain their portion of paper from the roll. Some people grab a hold of the end and gently pull it until they have their desired portion. Others take a certain number of squares of toilet paper off each time. But I believe that the overwhelming majority of people employ the "spinning roll" technique. This is where a person takes their nearest hand and spins the toilet paper roll in order to unroll it quickly. Now this is hugely affected by the positioning of the toilet paper. If the toilet paper is correctly placed on the roll, the natural downward spin with the nearest hand is possible. After the hand follows through, it can grab the toilet paper and tear on the way back up making it all one motion. But if the roll is rolling over the back, then I must spin the roll upwards, stop my follow through, then move my hand all the way back down to the loosened toilet paper before tearing. These are clearly two separate hand movements. So as you can now see with the proper positioning of the toilet paper, I save time and wasted motion.

Before I go on any further I must explain that when the roll is positioned with the paper rolling over the top, the end of the roll hangs about three to four inches from the wall. But when it positioned so that the paper rolls over the back then the paper hangs down the wall with no clearance between itself and the wall. This clearly presents a problem when reaching to grab the paper before the tear. On one hand there is the toilet paper rolling over the top hanging a few inches from the wall and very accessible and easy to grab. On the other hand the toilet paper rolling over the back of the roll and laying flush against the wall. How am I supposed to grab the toilet paper when it is hanging against the wall? Obviously anyone who hangs the toilet paper with the paper rolling over the back fails to realize the possible inconvenience this can cause.

When correctly placed with the paper rolling over the top, the toilet paper roll simply looks nicer than the alternative. The roll hangs nicely and saves me time and motion. It also can make the removal of the toilet paper a much easier process by hanging neatly a few inches from the wall rather than hanging against the wall and forcing me to struggle just to get a hold of it. The toilet paper roll is a simple tool that has been and continues to be used incorrectly, but I will always put it on the roll the proper way.