Toothpaste Tube Psychology

minty freshness

This morning, in the midst of the standard wake-up rituals, I began thinking about toothpaste tubes and our relationship with them.  My interest was sparked because my current Crest Fresh-mint with Baking Soda & Peroxide is nearing its final days of life.  I squeezed a couple times and yielded almost nothing.  Mindlessly, and by experiential habit, I laid the tube flat on the counter, grabbed my little black comb, and ran the backside of it along the tube from bottom to top.  Apparently, this is my method.  If you had asked me yesterday “hey Jeff, what do you do when your tube of toothpaste is on its last leg?”, I would not have had a decent response.  Hence, the mindlessness of ‘my method’.  But this got me thinking, as many random, generally irrelevant things often do… what does this say about me?  And of course I take it one step further and wonder – what do our toothpaste tube habits say about us as a people in general.  I’m sure a psychologist could give you an educated and reasonable take on this (and maybe I’ll ask one. I have enough in my family), but here’s mine…

I’m thinking to myself  – what compels us to expend any real effort at all to keep this tube of toothpaste on life support?  Is it a concern with general wastefulness and the environment?  Well maybe, I do consider myself pretty conscious in that department. But I use a trees worth of paper on an annual basis and don’t bat an eye, so I don’t think that’s it.  Is it thriftiness? A tube of toothpaste can’t be more than a few bucks and I think I usually grab a new one when I see one of those Albertsons Member Special “3/$6.00” signs.  That’s not it either.  After careful consideration, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that we do this out of laziness.  For whatever reason, we would rather drag the tube along the edge of the counter top, roll it up into a little taquito, or massage the paste upward inch by inch with our tired thumbs… than just go snag a new one off aisle 5.  And have you seen that you can now buy a ‘toothpaste roller’ or ‘squeezer’?  Thanks to modern technology/ridiculously bored inventors, these new-fangled, handy contraptions can help get you that extra drop of minty freshness.  Are we seriously doing this?  At least the comb method and the taquito rolls required some creativity and resourcefulness when those methods were originally discovered.  When you think about it, it’s probably more about a culture of procrastination than a culture of laziness, because all this tube wrangling requires far more energy than a trip to the drug store.  This is an anomaly, and it’s enough to make your head spin.

What I haven’t yet tackled (but certainly plan to) is deciphering what your individual method of toothpaste cpr means about you.  It’s really akin to the neverending psychological mystery of the toilet paper folder vs. the toilet paper crumpler.  And yes, I will be tackling that one too. Just you wait.