CLEAR SPRING, Md.—Tom Grosh was doing his civic duty during the coronavirus outbreak by standing on the side of the highway, offering free toilet paper to motorists.
His wife, his neice, and two teenage friends joined him, holding cardboard signs which read, “FREE T.P.!” Tom himself climbed onto his truck tailgate, waving rolls of 2-ply toilet paper at traffic.
Tom explained, “I was sitting in the office doing some work at the end of the day, God said to me, ‘You gotta help your fellow man.’ I knew exactly where to go to get the toilet paper and went and bought it.”
Tom bought 960 rolls, loaded them into his pickup, and gave them to anyone who had fallen victim to the Great Toilet Paper Shortage. People tried to pay Tom for the paper, but he wouldn’t accept money.
“We’re just trying to be a blessing and make somebody’s life a little better,” said Tom.
I will refrain from making any toilet paper jokes here, even though it would be very easy. Frankly, I’m just too wiped out.
HARTLEY, Iowa—Friday morning. The last day of school, before the world closed down. Elderly Bonnie Linder was on her porch. Bonnie always stands on her porch in the mornings so she can wave to the schoolbus. This is a highlight of her day.
It was a chilly sunrise. Bonnie heard the diesel engine. She started waving. But the yellow bus surprised her when it hissed to a stop before her house. Every window opened. A million rosy faces popped out and shouted, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
All Bonnie could do was laugh. Emotions will do that to a person.
Happy 93rd birthday, Miss Bonnie.
PORTLAND, Maine—Nathan Nichols told his tenants they could skip paying rent for April. His renters are blue-collar workers, Nathan knows work will be slow in the coming months. So he wanted to help.
Which is sort of miraculous, considering that some landlords are notorious for acting like giant toilet paper wads. I base this statement on my old landlord who once accused me of destroying our living room carpet by sneaking in a 90-pound bloodhound, even though we weren’t allowed to have pets.
My landlord’s untrue pet accusations were backed up by other tenants, who also claimed they saw an alleged bloodhound eating from flower boxes and begging for food whenever any neighbors fired up a barbecue grill. Ridiculous.
I denied these allegations flatly. So did my bloodhound.
Anyway, Nathan has encouraged other landlords to be gracious. He said, “I ask any other landlords out there to take a serious look at your own situation and consider giving your tenants some rent relief.”
And, for the love of God, please let your tenants have dogs. Thank you.
RALEIGH, N.C.—Last night, Jessie, Michael, and Elena took up playing marbles. They are home from school. Their mother was tired of seeing them glued to their cellphones and stuck on a sofa. So she hid their phones and made them play in the backyard.
The kids found some marbles. They asked their mother how to play, but their mother didn’t know how. So she called their grandfather in California who walked everyone through a game of marbles via video phone call.
Soon, the whole family was deeply involved in a game and was shooting marbles until after dark.
“It was pretty fun,” said 10-year-old Elena. “But I still really miss my phone. I know where my mom hid it.”
CHICAGO—The city shut down on Monday. So did the Shedd Aquarium, an indoor public aquatic center. Since the aquarium was empty, it seemed like a perfect time to (why not?) let all the penguins wander free. I am serious about this.
Yesterday afternoon, several rockhopper penguins traipsed through the indoor aquarium halls, pausing now and then to visit the other animals and shoot the breeze.
One penguin named Wellington—who has feathers poking from his head that resemble lambchop sideburns—really freaked out over the Amazon fish exhibit. Wellington froze when he saw the fish and was happier than a kid in a toilet paper store.
Zoologists nearby understood Wellington to be communicating with the rest of his flock, and believe he was actually saying, “LOOK! SUSHI!”
Wellington later told reporters he has no intentions of trimming his sideburns.
COLUMBUS, Ohio—You should have been at Helena Schlam’s house yesterday. You would have heard some good music. Seventy-eight-year-old Helena sat at the far corner of her front porch, several feet away, while Taran and Tien put on a concert in the other corner.
Taran (age 9) wore his nice suit. Tien (age 6) wore her fanciest dress. They carried their cellos from across the street, tuned them, rosined their bows, and took requests. Young Taran reportedly ripped out a 10-minute solo to “Freebird,” before Tien wailed on “Mustang Sally.”
No, I am only kidding. They played selections from “Suzuki Cello Book 1,” some Bach selections, and some early Stones. The concert lasted for a little over 30 minutes.
Miss Helena said, “I haven’t been out of my house for five days, and I won’t be out anytime soon… It was such a real gift.”
I’ll close by saying that I don’t know where these words find you today, but I know that anxiety is running rampant right now. Then again, so are good people. And so is goodwill. Whatever you do, don’t forget that.
If anyone needs toilet paper, see Tom Grosh for details. He’s still parked on the side of the highway.