Putting Down Roots


more things like this
February 22, 2012, 2:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Certain things about adulthood are suprising. I knew it would be tricky to navigate the waters of learning how to pay bills and file taxes, but there’s a whole category of things that never occurred to me, tasks that hit me in the face with the assurance that I am, in fact, an adult who has to take care of adult things. Mostly that category involves buying paper products. Today I was at Publix, picking up paper towels for the family I live with, and spent the usual ten minutes deliberating over what brand I should buy. (I mean, really, there are so many variables: do I remember their preferred brand? Do they have a preferred brand, or do they just want what’s cheapest? Or, if they won’t notice brand at all, should I think about the ethical implications of my choice? Doesn’t Kleenex have a bad rap for clearcutting forests? And how accurate are the price-per-sheet numbers on the price tags if the sheets are different sizes?) Eventually, I settled on the store brand, hefted it under my arm, resisted the urge to compare price-per-inch of scotch tape, checked out, empathized with the cashier (during my two-item transaction, I learned that she had started work at five, would be there til midnight, had been at school before that since nine, but don’t worry she only has that schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays so it’s not always this bad), and put the paper towels on the seat beside me in the car.

As I shifted into reverse, something on the packaging caught my eye. Wait, is that—really? Yup. Where other companies have explanations of the superiority of their product or pictures of burly men in flannel shirts, the plastic wrapping on this cache of paper towels was showing me, in 15 easy steps, apropos of nothing, how to fold one of their towels into a sweet little origami dog. I kid you not. A dog.

I love many things about this. I love the fact that somewhere there is a person in an office who said, “you know what would be great? If we showed people how to fold small animals out of our product!” I love that this person pitched the idea to someone, who also loved it. I love that, presumably, a group of people sat around a table, folding paper towels into various shapes and animals and objects before finally settling on this dog as the best option. I love that a graphic designer spent a day getting the diagrams just right.

I love this the same way I love those pranks that Google pulls on April Fool’s Day: the thought that in the midst of something that is usually pretty straightforward and serious, there is sanctioned tomfoolery. There are things that exist simply because they’re joyful and irreverant. This is what the world needs more of.

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