When did I start calling it tissue. . . and using it as paper towels?

Tissue Jeusayeoh!

Tissue. No, not the Kleenex kind. No, not toilet paper. That would imply that it should only be used in conjunction with a toilet. Koreans use it for everything. Wiping their ass, wiping their nose, wiping their hands, wiping their mouths during a meal, cleaning their desktop. There was even a time when one of my kids blew chunks in class. What did the Korean teachers use to clean it up? Tissue, lots and lots of tissue.

We’re not talking 2-ply here. It’s like half-ply in my opinion. A lot goes a little ways to getting the job done. It makes one wonder why, especially if they use it for so many things, they don’t use the good stuff so that they might use less. Well, they also don’t flush it down the toilet here. It collects in wastepaper baskets. Yes, even the stuff used to wipe after the magic 1 or 2. Eww, gross, right?! Which is worse:

  •  a backed up toilet?
  • a collection of used (but often lightly scented) tissue?

Yeah, I also vote for the second option. Alas, Korean plumbing leaves much to be desired. So just about everywhere you go, you will see signs in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese that say something to the effect of, “Please no tissue dump in toilet!” If you ignore these warnings, you will be presented with one of the most rank smells you have ever experienced.

In Korean bathrooms, you won’t only find tissue in the stalls. You find it next to the sink as a way to dry your hands. I hate drying my hands with it. For one thing, if your hands are too wet, it breaks before you have enough to dry them. It breaks apart in your hands so you end up with these little white tissue clumps everywhere. Sure, I could use the hand dryer also in the bathroom but that would mean the coldest arctic blast of air you have ever felt in your life (and I’m from Minnesota).

When my school remodeled they installed paper towel dispensers for the bathroom area. I was in heaven. Finally I didn’t have to air dry my hands with the winter air blower or succumb to the paper tissue problems discussed earlier. Unfortunately, the principal figured out the cost of the paper towels was higher than if she were to pay to uninstall the paper towel dispenser and replace it with one meant for the tissue roll. I died a little inside.

So you might ask, ‘How do the Koreans do it?’ Sometimes, they shake their hands like a polaroid picture and then usually walk out of the bathroom looking something like zombies or Frankenstein while their hands drip dry as they walk. Sometimes they wipe it on their pants. Other times, they just don’t. . . as in, wash them at all. Yuck, I know.

At this point, I am a pro. I have mastered the art of grabbing from the roll in such a way that my wet hands don’t break the paper path too soon and have learned that a pat-dry method is a much more effective way to avoid those pesky tissue clumps. Plus, as the weather gets warmer, the arctic blast on my hands from the dryer can be considered a useful way to help me cool down.

Until then, tissue jeusayeoh!


One thought on “When did I start calling it tissue. . . and using it as paper towels?

  1. We have big problems with tissue and paper towels at my school!

    There seems to be some sort of daily quota in place as to how many paper towels can be used. There’s a few in the bathroom dispensers, but the heaviest use is at lunchtime, so our front desk teachers stand by the bathrooms while the kids brush their teeth and dole them out. If you run out, they don’t get replaced until the next day. None of the teachers know where to get extras and they disappear from the bathrooms every day when the 2:30 kindergarten bell rings. I guess the afternoon kids don’t pay enough money to warrant the expense of providing paper towels!! Naturally, the kindy teachers have schemes (mostly hoarding) to make sure they have enough paper towels in case of spills, and in the case of hoarding, it exacerbates the problem for everyone else. I take a small stack in the morning and cut them in half since the kids rarely even unfold them when drying their hands.

    Toilet paper though…. we have 2 bathroom stalls (one with a kiddie sized toilet) for 22 female staff and all the students. Where is the little supply closet with extra rolls of paper? In the men’s room! We only have 3 male teachers who I’m sure are pretty tired of our pleas to grab us ladies some more toilet paper.


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