The big tissue issue

I’ve been clinging to my facial tissues since hearing the news that Kleenex will no longer be sold in Canada. The huge corporation sites ‘unique complexities’ for the decision, with some saying it’s a distribution problem. That, in itself, has me mopping my brow in confusion – with a Kleenex tissue, of course. How could Canada, where we have sniffles most of the year because of the cold weather, not be using enough of the product for them to make sufficient profit?

The very word has become colloquial as a genericized trademark. Translation: Kleenex is a brand name that we have simply come to use as the product name because of its popularity. Like Velcro, Frisbee, ChapStick, Popsicle – the brand name is synonymous with the product. You don’t hear teenagers call out to each other in the park, “Let’s play flying plastic disc!”

I realize there will still be other facial tissue brands on the shelves after Kleenex pulls the plug on Canada. If not, what will we do with all the extra time we will have when we don’t have to pluck shreds and linty bits from our clothes after forgetting to remove the pocket tissue before loading the washing machine. What will we wrap our precious things in when we’re in transit – the earring when we’ve lost the back, our kid’s tooth that needs to go under the pillow that night, the calming pill that was meant for the return flight but needed to be unwrapped in desperation when the London Underground was stuck for an hour because of a bomb threat. Okay, that last example likely only pertains to me. But, still, I’m sure you have your own Kleenex parables.

What will women dab their freshly lipsticked lips on? Or secretly wrap that extra brownie from the meeting in, to munch on later? What will the grannies pull out of their cardigan sleeves to spit on and wipe the strawberry jam off children’s faces? What will teenage girls stuff their bras with? What about those little packets that get passed up and down rows at funerals and weddings and sad movies?

My dad used to use hankies in the 60s, which is what I had learned to iron on. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, given our quest to eliminate single use products. Not sure how well that’s going, since we’re already beginning to hear about shortages in grocery stores, like how toilet paper went flying off the shelves at the beginning of the pandemic because we didn’t know what the world would look like from then on.

A world without Kleenex in Canada. Hmmm. Well, it’s safe to say that I encounter Kleenex every day of my life, so it feels like they’ve pulled the rug out from under me. Every move I’ve made in my adult life, I’ve purposefully stated, “We have to be very clear where we place the box of Kleenex, because it will be there forever.” And it has always been true. Whether we lived in that location for six months or 16 years, the box was replenished to that exact same spot every time.

Now I’m going to have to find some sort of bric-a-brac to fill that space. An empty box of Kleenex for sentimental purposes? Hmmm… what other relic seems so familiar? Oh, right, my old corporate day-timer!

Sandy Bexon is stepping into retirement after over 35 years as a communications professional, reporter and writer. She lives in Red Deer.

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