The dude’s name is Clyde, but on the streets he’s known as “The Depot.” 

No matter what you need or in what quantity, The Depot can hook you up. 

Guns? The Depot’s got guns. Dope? Liquor? Party girls? If you’ve got the cash, my friend, you’ll find everything you need in the back of The Depot’s windowless van. 

It’s the Silk Road in there, my man. It’s Black Market heaven. 

Today, The Depot’s rolling warehouse is parked in a dusty lot off Lisbon Street and business is booming. Nobody wants Glocks this time and none are interested in crank, either. Times have changed, of late, but that’s OK. The Depot rolls with the punches. 

“If that’s all you got for cash,” he tells a harried fat man, “the best I can do for you is six rolls of White Cloud. Believe me, bruh. That’s the best bargain you’re going to find.” 

“Come on, brother,” the fat man protests. “I got a family. Three kids and all of them with overactive bowels. You gotta make it 10 rolls. And how about some of that Purell I see back there?” 

“Eight rolls of store brand stuff,” The Depot counters. “I can’t give you no Purell, but I’ll toss in a sample packet of Equate. Best I can do, bub. You in or out?” 

The fat man grumbles but takes the deal. Behind him is a scowling woman in Snoopy pajamas who’s come to trade her big screen Samsung for 10 rolls of Scott brand. At the last minute, she changes her mind and takes six rolls of Charmin. Sometimes, you’ve just got to go with the good stuff. 

Next, a working-class Joe willing to trade a Playstation and Gibson six-string for 10 rolls of TP and a three-pack of N95 masks. After that, it’s nine rolls and a can of Lysol for a pretty young lass who’s willing to part with her engagement ring for that piece of mind in the bathroom. 

All of this is probably made up, but you know? I’m really not sure.

Times have gotten weird. I’m OK with most of it. The pandemic isn’t much of a surprise, really, nor is the way people are reacting to it. This was bound to happen sooner or later.

But I will never, ever — no sir, not never — understand this crazy obsession with toilet paper. It baffles me. Stupefies me. Amuses me for a little while before it just gets depressing and I have to look away. 

With the world closing down around us and coronavirus only gaining steam, why has humble TP become the most coveted item in the world? Toilet paper is useful, I will grant you, but it has but one use and if times get really tough, there are plenty of alternatives (try not to think about that too much).

Every time I see the scrambling hordes filling their carts at Walmart or Hannaford, I wonder what I’m missing. Are those people planning to eat the toilet paper? Have they discovered a way to smoke it, drink it or load it into their shotguns so they can roam the perimeter and protect the rest of their quilted, three-ply stash? 

Why are these people not hoarding bags of rice, tuna fish, water filters or ammo instead?  What was it that made them suddenly decide: “To heck with food, protection and clean water! I need to prepare myself for 5 million wipes!” 

I just. Don’t. Get it. I will bet you any money. . . No, I will bet you a hundred rolls of ultra plush White Cloud, that this began as some fiend’s diabolical experiment in human behavior. Somebody somewhere intentionally planted just the right subliminal seed to put the toilet paper frenzy into motion. Now they’re rolling with laughter in front of their television sets. 

“I told you I could do it, Marvin! Just like I told you a couple years ago I could get them to dump buckets of ice water over their heads in the middle of winter!” 

It’s nuts, yo, but let’s move on. I have other thoughts on all of this. 

You’ve got to figure that at least a third of the people weaving through the supermarkets with carts stacked to the ceiling tiles are the kinds of people who, as recently as a month ago, were making fun of preppers. Doesn’t seem so crazy anymore, does it, now that the S has H the F?

In saner times, one might cough to cover up an embarrassing bodily noise from another part of his body. Today, people will make embarrassing bodily noises to cover up a cough.

Yes, I stole that concept from a Facebook meme. And yes, there’s a bitter sense of truth to it. After all, how far off are we from “The Crucible” style witch hunts where neighbor turns on neighbor over suspected contamination.

“Hey, everyone! I saw McDougal eating at a restaurant last week and now he’s clearing his throat all the time! He’s infected and must be banished!” 

I wish corporations and government types would stop using the term “nonessential workers.” If a guy does enough to warrant inclusion on the payroll in these greedy financial times, how nonessential can he be? In a lot of ways, the dude who cleans the bathrooms is more essential than the CEO right now. 

Now that I think of it, what did all those jabronis from “The Walking Dead” use for toilet paper? As far as I’ve seen from the later seasons, they apparently used the show scripts.

Small business is getting killed. They’re not being asked to shut down, in places they’re being ordered to. Think they’ll get a bailout when all of this is over? Doubtful. The American dream is officially suspended. 

You know what’s fun? Reading a copy of Stephen King’s “The Stand” while all this plays out. COVID-19 in the real world — Captain Trips in King’s imagination; it’s weird how well the two sync up. But mind you, do NOT try to read the unabridged version in which the story becomes grotesquely bloated and unwieldy. If you have the unabridged version of that book, there’s your toilet paper alternative.

Here’s another nifty story idea. What if all this coronavirus business was manufactured by the global elites who want to force us all indoors so we won’t see what they’re up to. Maybe they’re bringing in a race of subservient extraterrestrials from deep space and they don’t want us gawking at the sky as they arrive. Maybe they’re expanding their super secret underground cities and they need the streets clear so they can dig. I didn’t say it was a GOOD story idea. Good enough for the USA network, though, or possibly TBS.

You’ve seen the mob scenes at the stores. You’ve heard the stories about people brawling over rolls of toilet paper or the last bottle of Clorox liquid bleach. Now try to imagine how people will behave if the checks stop going out. Try to envision what things will look like if ALL the store shelves go bare and people find themselves out of food. I don’t mean to sound cryptic, but perhaps you should just keep those thoughts in mind for the next one. 

Stay safe, you beautiful weirdos. And don’t forget to wash my hands.


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