When I ran out for a few things at Super Store tonight, I browsed the aisle of itty bitty bottles, jars, and tubes intended for folks going on holidays. The Electrician and I are flying to Kuwait in twenty days, so I’ve been looking at travel sizes in hopes of finding good deals on the stuff I use. So far, I found my toothpaste paired with a folding toothbrush, a wee curly hair gel, and I bought the “airplane size” of my contact lens solution too. I’m starting to amass a collection to small toiletries to take far, far away with us. Yes, fellow curly heads, I’m well-aware I need to take a full-size hair goop; the little one is just for my carry-on to ensure I don’t end up with no hair product if my luggage takes the long way to Kuwait.
Many of the things I use simply aren’t available in travel sizes. Stuff like my face lotion and my shampoo I’ll have to transfer into little generic bottles. Although my face wash comes in a wee size, I won’t ever buy the travel bottle again after it leaked all over my luggage once (from inside a ziploc bag, no less) and left me with goopy clothes and a greasy face for the entire trip. Travel really is all about the planning; women especially have to be diligent or risk finding themselves in a foreign land, sunburned, funky, and with hair big enough to shame the competition at Westminster Dog Show.
On the top row of the baskets of travel things tonight was something that caught my eye: a plastic clamshell holding what appeared to be the last few uses of a roll of toilet paper. I investigated, and discovered it was a travel pack of Charmin Basic, which meant, as I learned on closer inspection, 55 squares of single-ply butt wipe. I’m going to be in a country far outside the realm of my experience in a few weeks, and the thought of having an emergency stash of TP in my purse felt comforting. Even if I found myself in a stall with a door that didn’t lock and a toilet that didn’t flush, or (gulp) nothing but a hole in the floor, and nothing with which to wipe myself, I could have a little piece of the hygienic comforts of home with me.
Then, as it often does, math ruined everything. The Charmin in the travel pack, which I had begun thinking of as the desperation size, contained 55 squares of paper and was priced at 1.29 plus tax. While just over a buck and a quarter doesn’t appear to be outrageous, I starting running the numbers in my head and decided it wasn’t worth my pocket change. Upon my return to the dollhouse, I actually did the math and was thoroughly disgusted by what I realized.
At $1.29 plus 5% GST, the desperation size goes for a total of $1.35. That’s just about 2.5 cents per sheet. I checked my Charmin at home, which I buy in packages of 24 double rolls. Since there are 176 sheets per roll according to the label, my purchase of 24 rolls means there are 4224 sheets in the unopened package on the shelf in my basement. I paid $10.69 for that package when I caught a good sale a few weeks back. If you’re ahead of me and doing the long division, your eyes might be popping at the difference between the stockpile price and the desperation price; wait! I neglected to mention that I buy the Charmin Ultra Strong, because a sturdy TP makes everyone’s life a little bit better. This robust tissue comes in two-ply rolls. For the sake of a level playing field, each square on the Ultra Strong roll counts double against the single-ply Basic.
Brace yourself. If there are technically 8448 squares in a package of my Charmin, and I snag a deal and pay only $10.69 plus tax, I’m paying $11.22 for all those squares. The math on these works out to about 1.3 cents for ten sheets, or 0.13 cents per sheet. Charmin desperation size is therefore just under twenty times as expensive as the rolls in my basement. Ouch.
I am going to make my own travel pack of Charmin. It will consist of a couple arms’ lengths of TP straight off my bathroom wall, folded neatly into a little ziploc bag. I will call it the “I may be desperate, but I’m not stupid” size.
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