Update on Over or Under?

When I wrote Accepting Parkinson’s article in December 2020, I had no idea it would be be a very long time before I would write an update. I’m not going to do that update today either but I am going to write about a topic that has been on my mind, a topic that is completely irrelevant and unimportant.

in November 2015, I published a post on this blog called Over or Under? it is about the controversy about how to hang toilet paper. (https://livinglearningandlettinggo.com/2015/11/15/over-or-under/.)

I suggest you read the original post before you go on if you don’t remember it or have never read it.

I believed I had always been an under without knowing it. I had a client at the time I wrote the post who admitted that she changed the toilet paper from under to over whenever she came to my office.

I never dreamed that being sick would be the occasion that would cause me to change from being an under to an over.

But it has done just that! My hands are both weak but the left is weaker than the right. The toilet paper roll is now to my left which is also something I am not used to.

I have found that putting the toilet paper in the over position makes it much easier for me to break it off. So I have joined the overs!

I said this was to be a irrelevant and unimportant post. I think it was just that. I hope it is the first of many posts, some important and some not.

Only in America?

When I went to my blog’s stats page yesterday, I noticed that six people had read a post I had written in July of 2015. How had they found it? The “referrers” and “search engine terms” sections of the stats page didn’t give me a clue.

It was interesting for me to read the post again. In the last two weeks there have been many stories on the news about the run on toilet paper. Since then, the store shelves where the toilet paper once resided have been empty every time I’ve been to the grocery store. Some stores are putting a limit on how much toilet paper people can buy as a way to prevent the hoarding.

I’m thankful that I had bought some toilet paper just before the run on it began. I’m even more thankful for the 30+ years I’ve been going to India. Especially in the early years, there was generally no toilet paper available. I know I would survive even if I had to live without it.

It seems a fitting time for me to repost this 2015 article.


When I went to the supermarket yesterday, these displays caught my eye.

The three displays were next to each other and all were devoted to the sale of toilet paper!

A few minutes later I found another display directly across from the check out counter:


Yes, it was more toilet paper!  I wonder if any other country in the world would devote this much supermarket space to toilet paper.  I doubt it.

This morning, I decided to go back to the store and take a look at the packaging.  I thought it might be interesting to read the advertising comments and it was! These words and phrases were used:

  • Clean Care
  • Ultra Soft
  • Mega Roll
  • A Soft Clean
  • Septic Safe
  • Ultra Strong
  • Cleans Better
  • More Absorbing
  • Plus Absorbent
  • Soft and Strong
  • Silky Comfort
  • Soft Layers
  • Strong and Absorbent
  • Gentle Care
  • Removes More
  • Angel Soft
  • Extra Soft
  • Quilting
  • Clean Stretch
  • Confident Clean
  • Softness and Strength
  • Long Lasting Value
  • 3x Stronger plus Resistant
  • Soft and Affordable
  • Soft on Nature, Soft on You
  • Soft and Absorbent

I have to wonder how toilet paper can have clean stretch or long lasting value!

I wish I had counted how many different types of toilet paper there were.  I know one company made three or four types, on a scale from Basic to Ultra!

I don’t know what kind of summary statement to make about this post.  I think I will let the information speak for itself and look forward to hearing your reactions.  Does toilet paper receive this much attention where you live?

Over or Under?


There was a time earlier this year when I noticed the amount of space devoted to toilet paper in our local supermarket.  The toilet paper display had caught my eye in the past but the absurdity of it really struck me on that day. The sight impacted me enough that I wrote a post about it! (Only in America?)

Another toilet paper issue has surfaced in my life. While I was aware of  the debate over whether toilet paper should hang over or under the roll, I didn’t realize how much energy people had about it.

I personally side with the under camp, but began to wonder what other people thought. When we were planning some “getting to know you” exercises for a recent therapy activity, the staff decided to place a fun question among the serious ones.  We asked the participants if they were unders or overs and had them divide into two groups. I was surprised to discover that in a group of 15 people 12 were overs and 3 were unders. I had no idea that the distribution would be so skewed or that I would be part of the minority.

After a friend sent me the picture I will place at the end of this post, I decided to delve further into the topic. (Sometimes it is fun to investigate a topic that has no particular importance!)

Wikipedia devotes 5445 words to the issue and that number doesn’t include the 132 footnotes, 119 references and 13 recommendations for further reading.

I found these factors mentioned in various sources:

  1. Over keeps the flap further away from the wall, which may contain germs.
  2. Over is the way that hotels do it so it must be right. (Over allows hotel staff to neatly fold back the flap.)
  3. Over makes the pattern on the toilet paper look right.
  4. Over makes it easier to tear off the number of tiles you want
  5. Over makes it easier to find the flap.
  6. The patent on toilet paper displays it in the over position.
  7. Under makes it less likely it will unravel in an RV or during an earthquake
  8. Under keeps children and pets from unrolling it.
  9. Under is neater since the flap can be hidden.
  10. Under creates less kinetic friction

An engineering study found that 70% of the people they studied are overs and 30% are unders.  When looking at psychological factors, the researchers found overs to be overachievers who stay organized and take charge, and unders to be laid back, artistic and dependable. The study reported that 50% of people pay attention to the orientation of toilet paper, and that 20% have changed the orientation when they thought it was wrong.  The investigators estimated that the average American spends half an hour a year trying to find the end of the toilet paper roll and that endeavor is said to create a $300 million loss in productivity.

I believe I now know enough about toilet paper orientation, so to end this post I will share the picture I mentioned above.  My friend found this toilet paper dispenser in a “pizza joint” in Kenmore, Washington!

toilet paper