You Got To Learn To Roll With The Changes

Shortly after my brother and I moved to San Antonio, our Grandmother took to making sure that we were going to be alright, independent, edumacated, and all of that other stuff.


Among the tools in the arsenal she endeavored to provide us was a subscription to Consumer Reports, complete with the 1991 buyer’s guide.

Grandma didn’t make a move, a minor purchase, or a major purchase without consulting Consumer Reports first.  If she was considering an item to buy and a brand appeared which hadn’t been reviewed by the good people at CR, it was a foregone conclusion that Grandma’s hard earned dollar wouldn’t be spent in that direction.


Easy as that.


Since CR was something good enough to help Grandma dictate and manage her life, it was certainly good enough for her Grandsons to incorporate it into their own lives as they entered adulthood.


Just on background, Grandma and Grandpa were both teachers.  They would be quite proud to know that my son is perusing a career in music education at the same school their daughter (Mom) attended a few years before.  They would also be proud for a great deal of the events which have taken place in the lives of their progeny in the years following their passing.  Whereas they would probably be proud of the fact that I continue to write, they would be less than ecstatic that I insist on continuing to use the long, bordering on run-on sentences.


They probably wouldn’t like the tangential discussions I commit, but who knows?  They could both talk and talk and talk in their own right too.


I was reminded of Grandma and her holy allegiance to Consumer Reports today when I heard a radio spot of theirs.


On a regular basis, CR will use a few minutes of airtime on any number of shows to discuss a recent review or survey of a given product.  True to form, they’ll discuss the cost of different brands as well as the results in the various testing they’ve performed.  Short of announcing how many solid or half empty circles CR rated the different product (as in their buyer’s guide), the outfit tries to be pretty thorough for the limited time they have during the radio spot.

Well ladies and gentlemen, after hearing what I heard today, all I can say is this.


God bless the good people at Consumer Reports who are involved in product testing.


Today’s spot was on toilet paper.


Naturally I won’t go into details and provide you with the white elephant gift of knowing what the outcome of testing was.  For that, you’ll need to either listen to the spot yourself or go find a copy of the magazine.


Although consider this.


Consumer Reports, as far as I know, has always had a good reputation for being pretty gosh darn thorough.  I would bet anything on that particular reputation being one of the sole (or soul, take your pick) reasons why Grandma swore by them.  Granted, Grandma didn’t swear much but you know what I mean.


It occurs to me just how much I use wordplay in these blogs.


So given that CR is so thorough, consider the parameters of their testing when it came to putting toilet paper through it’s paces.


Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve done my share of testing over the last ten years of various different processes within the financial services industry and on a couple of different websites (this one included).


Let me assure you that testing the process of merely logging onto a website is considerably more involved than answering the question of whether logging on works or not.


There is a wide variety of factors at play which need to be considered.

Going forward, I should warn you that some of the perceived details of testing toilet paper are going to be outlined or suggested in the coming passages of today’s dispatch.  Those of you of a delicate nature and sensibility may want to reconsider reading the rest of this piece. Otherwise, I can only hope that those of you who choose to hang in there be prepared to spit take your apple juice (or whatever you drink) on your monitor.  This may get a little colorful.


Let’s just establish it right here and now that toilet paper isn’t being tested based on the tactile response your cheek (the one on your face) feels when you lay a sheet in your open palm and apply it to your face.  In fact the only time I’ve ever seen that done is on a commercial.  If people actually did feel compelled to test it that way, wouldn’t there be grocery store employees set up with a counter in the paper goods aisle of the supermarket handing out free samples to all who happened by?


While we’re at it, we should pretty much dispense with those cartoon bears who advertise a particular brand whose name fails me right now.  The only cool thing about that whole ad campaign is that it’s based on the simple question:  “Does a bear shit in the woods?”  The thought of a bear using toilet paper only applies to one particular application, but not the one that toilet paper is traditionally known for.


If that last statement baffles you, don’t worry about it.  Details will follow.


Naturally, the primary thing you have to take into account when testing toilet paper is gender.  Sure men and women are all alike, but some of the plumbing is different.


Men have been known to use toilet paper for three specific purposes.  On the rare occasion where a sleeve is readily unavailable, men have been known to grab a piece of paper off the roll in order to blow their nose.  Of course, that’s on the rare occasion that a man decides to blow his nose instead of snortin’ the contents of his snot locker into his throat so as to produce a really good loogie for hocking out the window of a moving vehicle.


Naturally, the other reason for men to use toilet paper involves a ticker tape parade after taking the Browns to the Super Bowl.


Perhaps one of the more unknown purposes for a man to use toilet paper doesn’t really involve blowing a nose or cleaning up after a parade.  Instead, it involves providing relief for indiscriminate itches which find their way onto various parts of the body which don’t always provide an avenue to attend to in polite society.


By the way, bears get itches that tree bark can’t always reach.


Women, of course, have an extra reason or two to use toilet paper.  As much as a call for detail may be on order here, I’m going to leave it vague at this point.  Certainly I can discuss the embarrassing itches men get and how they take care of them, but I’m not about to go into details on how the ladies take care of similar itches or other parts involved.  Just understand here and now that women have a few extra uses for toilet paper.


So let’s get back to the testing parameters used by the good people at Consumer Reports.


Was the testing completed on men and women?  How about boys and girls?


Was a control group identified?


Were the expected results documented prior to observing actual results?


Was the paper tested on number 1 and number 2?


Was the paper tested on all of the other stuff it’s used for?


How many permutations of the toilet paper test were executed?


What was the frame of reference?


Were the test subjects fairly regular?


Were test subjects with unusual intestinal activity involved?


How was the paper used?  Was it wadded up in a ball or folded in a flat sheet manner?


Where there any backups in the toilet which inhibited a good flush?


Did it resolve the itch?


Did it cling?


Did it git-r-done?


Was it placed on the dispenser coming from the back of the roll, or feeding from behind said roll?


Was an extra roll placed at hand, just in case?


Did the test subjects wash their hands?


Short of drawing out a flowchart of all of the different test scenarios (which I could and almost did), those are pretty much the core items which ideally would need to be tested in order for the good people at Consumer Reports to have qualified valid results for their latest radio spot on brands of toilet paper.


So naturally, we return to the question that’s been burning from sentence one when I started writing this one.


Would Grandma have been proud of her favorite consumer advocates?


Let’s just leave the question at that, and not even consider how she would have felt about my writing about it.

Randy Tharp

TharpSter is a husband to one woman, a father to two kids, a master to two dogs, an occasional cubical occupant, and unable to make up his mind on an adequate theme for this website.

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