Profit != Good Toilet Paper
Last week, I worked on-site at a factory for one of the most profitable companies in the world. Most of the users still used Office 2000. I had not seen that for a while, but from my experience, the larger organizations do tend to be slow on software upgrades. So that did not stick out to me as unusual. But I did find myself surprised in an unlikely place– the restroom.
The toilet paper definitely caught my attention. Its one-ply sheets were very thin and prone to break easily when you tried to pull the roll. At the same time, it was very un-fabric-like; it was rough.
Now, I’ve visited numerous customer sites and a variety of different industries — I’ve been to mines (and wouldn’t you expect sketchy toilet paper in a tough environment like a mine?), dairy plants, food testing labs, automotive plants, computer manufacturing sites, pharmaceutical sites and government agencies. So I think it is notable when I say, “This site had the worst toilet paper.”
And I’m not talking bad about this company behind their back. It took me two days, but I shared my observations with my hosts and they had to agree (how could one argue?). Of course, opening the toilet paper topic did prompt an awkward moment.
At one point, one of the trainees was telling me about a different organization and she used an analogy.
“They go through [engineers] like you go through our toilet paper!” she declared.
Suddenly I was self-conscious and flustered. “What? How do YOU know how much toilet paper I use?!?”
“Because…” the trainee said, “I’ve used it… I know how thin it is.”
Ah…. I breathed a sigh of relief. I guess I should have known. If the company was going to invest in the restroom, they probably would have upgraded the toilet paper before they installed cameras to monitor the toilet paper usage of their guests. 🙂
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