Toilet Paper Roll Debate

A polemic for when you’re sitting down.

Situation 1 — Seems like the common and rational way, arguably universal. The toilet paper rests openly flayed outward for one to grab, almost gracing the edge of one’s knee; to draw it towards its fated clump is to spin the wheel naturally forward. Despite my many flaws, I consider myself a very rational and logical person, and feel that this situation is the objective, perhaps even ethical “right” way of doing things — to the point where I feel that people who disagree with this issue are less equipped to deal with life in general, like they are intrinsically flawed human beings. Grant me such liberty to say the issue at stake is ontological: does the universe extend towards oneself, or retract from it? Is it sentient of morons who set things up improperly? If we are alone in the universe, do we not have the solemn responsibility to makes things a little easier for us? Notice that the edge of the toilet paper is relatively far away from the wall — walls which, if you’re man whose bachelorhood doesn’t instill an incentive to “aim,” might be spotted with urine. Sometimes when I do my business, I like to gaze at the welcoming edge of the toilet paper. I employ ~2-3 restrained yet earnest grunts, my incumbent material silently leaving my viscera. To the stoic sitter, this is how one does it. True, I am not the happiest or most well-adjusted person in the world, but I do have reason on my side. Goodbye burrito, goodbye Pad Thai, says the polite rationalist.

Situation 2 — Occasionally I will have a visitor, and the ones I associate with are usually considerate enough to change the toilet paper, if needed, after their redolent “doings,” but it always strikes me when they employ this completely irrational situation. Now one must lean down unstably on a sole ass cheek, almost crouching under with a bent arm and blindly clawing hand in faith of even finding the edge of the toilet paper, only to risk ripping it prematurely, as it is going against the weight of the roll. It’s also so close to the wall that (a) it is in near contact with the footnote explained urine-spotted wall, (b) attempts to retrieve the toilet paper are often met by accidentally ramming one’s fingers against the wall. For those who employ “Situation 2,” the implication is less rhetorical than it is statistical: y’all have difficultly grasping simple mechanical concepts. To say that you simply approach things differently, with more “interiority” in this regard, preferring the subtleties of an inward curve, is to be rather euphemistic. I often wonder why people like to make things so difficult for me. After they leave, perhaps a day or two later, I will correct the toilet paper’s orientation, and smile in concession to the ways of irrational people. “Situation 2” is, ontologically, to strip an object of its very identity by its orientation, meaning: it is no longer a roll of toilet paper, but a huge headache. As for the huge stomachache, that comes out swiftly, softly. TC mark

image – Derek Gavey


More From Thought Catalog

  • A.

    I prefer #1 over but the only valid argument I have heard for #2 is cats because cats will play with your toilet paper and spin the entire roll if it’s the other way.

  • Mung Beans

    just stand it up on the back of the toilet

    •!/WordNerd Ethan

      I agree, Mung Beans. Situation 3, i.e. toilet paper roll on the toilet, AKA the third party candidate, always gets my vote.

    • Michael Koh

      that’s for quitters

  • Becky To

    It goes UP and OVER (situation 1). Come on people, get it together. It drives me crazy. Damn my OCD-like tendencies.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, excellent piece, as usual.

    Second of all, I saw the title and actually said out loud, “Jimmy Chen!!” I was both right and grateful I live alone for that strange moment.

    Third of all, I tweeted this the other day, seems relevant:

    “When I am staying at someone’s house and they face their toilet paper
    towards the wall, I no longer trust them with high-level decisions.”

  • CaptG-B


  • Hayden?

    I was wondering why “morningwood” was tagged…until I read the complete article. Women honestly don’t understand how hard it is to control the stream. It’s like trying to snipe someone while skydiving . You may not get an exact headshot but at least you hit the target.

  • M. Kitchell

    “violent entropy of piss” is a really good line (also, situation 1 is the only one that makes sense, god damn)

  • EarthToNichole

    I am tolerant of both forms of toilet paper roll placement. However, if I am at someone’s house and notice they use disposable wet wipes instead of normal TP, I can’t help but find them pretentious. 

    • Anonymous

      i find it a little more creepy and unsettling than pretentious…

  • David Moon

    Your urine excuse troubles me. You’re okay with not cleaning urine off of your wall, yet the toilet paper roll direction bothers you? Sure, accidents happen. There are better reasons for this being the correct direction. This is a more analytical explanation of why “Situation 1” is best:

  • Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

    Yogurt in the evening makes pooping in the morning smooth. Nice “morning wood” foot note, seems relevant. JC gives guidance in all things.

    • Raegan


  • Dean W

    I’ve seen stats where it shows there is about a 60-40 split in terms of how people do it. There is thus, NO RIGHT WAY to do it, but TWO possible ways. 

    • Sasha Jones

      jimmy chen is always right…(maybe it’s hyperbole, but… no–jimmy chen is always right)

    • Raegan

      No no no no.. Situation one is ALWAYS  the right way.  People who do it the second way have not put any thought into it.

      Another point: Of course there are two ways to do it. There are multiple ways to do a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean that they’re the correct way.

  • hannah

    Are you bored?

  • Julian Assange


  • Sasha Jones

    i love you, jimmy chen

  • Guest

    I’m going to enact Situation 2 just to be an asshole to the next victim.

  • Lim Yan Yun

    Situation 1 always lead to excessive rotations of the toilet roll.

  • Andrewdavidgonzalez

    The “sitch” doesn’t matter. Just slap the damn thing and let the good times roll.

  • Guy

    Ahhh, fantastic.

  • Guest

    I feel like situation 2 is the default if you put on the roll and then start to rip.  I don’t know why and if I’m the only who has tended to experience this…but I prefer situation 1 as well.  If it bothers me enough that particular day I will go and flip it, but sometimes I really just don’t care enough to go to the effort.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    am i seriously the only one who doesnt think about this at all?

  • Soyoung Lim

    That. Was. Fantastic. And I think I learned about a year’s worth of vocabulary in that one post about the orientation of toilet paper.

  • i have an opinion

    you always write about gross things in gross detail but you make it sound alright

  • MD

    Situation 1 is more appropriate and hygienic, especially if you are suffering from loose stools; you are less likely to rub your finger against the wall after you have gone thru the paper, thereby leaving a rather unwanted Hershey bar on the wall as you fumble for the end of the roll.

  • Jasehottenroth

    The problem in many schools of extremely rational philosophy is that you cannot exist in that world….you still need to concern yerself wit eating and whipping your ass. 
    And the problem with extreme examples of bathroom etiquette is that you still have to clean up the toilet paper hurricane your cat creates if you leave it home with the bathroom door open and the toilet paper is in the ‘situation 1’ position.
    Ideals fail….and so our toilet paper dreams have to be set up backwards.

blog comments powered by Disqus