Wiping away our toilet trouble

Oct. 4, 2002, midnight | By Alex Piazza | 18 years, 3 months ago

County turns the other cheek as Blair students give their single-ply toilet paper the flush

I began my investigation by scouring a Blair Blvd bathroom (sadly enough, this is how I begin research for most stories), and after meticulous searching, I finally found hard answers. "Ah-Ha!" I proclaimed. "Just as I suspected—single ply."

Actually, it wasn't quite single ply, more like a napkin that had been used to degrease a slice of six-cheese pizza: ply of a fraction that can be expressed only in scientific notation or by somehow using pi. And that's only for the stalls with toilet paper—many stalls didn't even come fully equipped. Apparently, the problem is caused by MCPS, who can't seem to spare a collective square.

According to Principal Phillip Gainous, MCPS allocates $10,000 less than the amount needed to fund Blair's list of supply materials such as toilet paper, so Blair is forced to pay for supplies out of its own pocket, money that could be much better spent on such indispensable educational tools as computers and, well, ID strings.

Ten thousand dollars is hard to fathom, so let me quantify it. At 90 cents a roll, that's about 110 rolls. With 500 sheets per roll, and an average of, say, five sheets per wipe, that's 11,000 wipes. At about three wipes per sitting, this comes to over 3,500 Blazer butt-cheeks which are left to survive on their own until they can make it to the nearest 7-11 or sizeable shrubbery.

The problem stems from an allocation inadequacy in which
funding is based on the size of the building and not the population of each school, thereby disregarding Blair's overpopulation.

To further my research on the toilet paper status quo, I contacted the Montgomery County Superintendent's office and was connected with the secretary.

Me: Greetings. My name is Alex Piazza; I'm a writer for Sil*#$ Ch#!@.

(I coughed so as not to tarnish Silver Chips' proud history of professionalism whenever dealing with any of its many toilet-related stories.)

Me: I just had a few questions about the allocation of money towards bathroom supplies such as toilet paper. Could you please direct me towards a well-informed individual in this highly technical field?

Secretary: Oh sure, there's two gentlemen I could connect you with.

(Apparently, MCPS has at least two guys in "toilet paper.")

Secretary: Unfortunately, they're currently having a meeting with each other.

This is where I'm supposed to use a journalistic device called "follow-up questions," but in the heat of the moment I failed to inquire about the possible topics being deliberated in a meeting of such a caliber, like rationing out only one square per sitting, using two ply as a morale builder, and, of course, the great debate: folding vs. crumpling.

Me: Well then, could I ask you a question concerning the escalating toilet paper situation?

Secretary: Okay.

Me: What is the toilet paper like at the MCPS office? Is it like the quilted three ply that you get at your grandmother's house? Or is it more like the tracing paper that Blair students are expected to use?

Secretary: I'm not sure about that, but it's not that good.

And so I needed to search elsewhere for the hard facts I wanted and soon found myself next to Building Services Manager James Brown.

Brown knows how hard it is to fund Blair's 180 roll-per-week demand, especially with the frequent toilet paper infractions that occur. "I take it personally when I'm pinching pennies for supplies and students throw entire rolls of toilet paper into the toilet," says Brown.

And that's why something must be done: because now, it's personal. For as long as Blair is continually forced to funnel resources into toilet tissue, we might as well just tear out pages from our one ply Environmental Science textbooks, because that's essentially the sacrifice Blair is being forced to make—our education for our butts.

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Alex Piazza. Alex Piazza is a junior page editor for Silver Chips, one of the better newspapers of the world. While participating in the CAP program, he also plays for the varsity soccer team and plays in an out-of-school band, playing an eclectic mix of styles. Alex … More »

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