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       Some years ago, Ann Landers ran a column about the right way to hang bathroom tissue. The column drew thousands of responses, but no conclusion was ever drawn, because Ann was unable to tell which responses were valid. Well, when the world has a problem too tough for Ann Landers, or Dear Abby, or Marilyn vos Savant, the world can turn to me for the correct answer.
       That column drew many answers, but I will refer to just 3 of them. The funniest answer came from a person pretending to be a physics professor (or, maybe a real physics professor having a good joke) who described how much effort was needed to tear the paper according to force vectors and the like.
       That answer was complete nonsense, of course. The amount of force needed to tear the paper is tiny compared to the force required for all of the arm motions involved in reaching and tearing, not to mention the forces involved in leaning your body towards the dispenser. A person's arm is many times the weight of an entire roll of tissue.
       Two responses really need to be considered. The first came from a hotel housekeeper who said that the tissue is always hung over the top in her hotel. This is significant because hotels do not take matters like how to hang bathroom paper lightly. Large chains have studies done to determine the method most people prefer, and smaller chains and independents follow suit.
       From Bayonne to Brussels to Bangkok, hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, boarding houses, and even bawdy houses all hang the paper over the top. Here are the most important reasons:

       When the paper is hung over the top, the free end is closer to the person. The user does not have to lean or reach as far. This is especially important when the dispenser is not close to the seat, or when the person is elderly.
       Even in households where all the residents are young and limber, the paper should be hung over the top as a courtesy for the occasional elderly or disabled visitor.

       Hanging the paper over the top makes it easier to get the right amount. The person can see the entire length of paper that is being dispensed, and therefore can easily see where to tear it. When the paper is hung against the wall, part of the paper is hidden by the roll, particularly the tear line, and it is much harder to judge.
       When the paper is hung over the top, it is also possible for the person to place the other hand above the tear line to steady the roll to help get the desired amount.

       When the paper is hung over the top, the person can see the tear line where the paper gets separated from the roll. This makes it possible to apply the quick snap that many people use to produce a fast even tear. If the tear is becoming uneven, the person can notice that happening and correct the situation, perhaps by placing the other hand along the tear line.
       When the paper is hung over the top it is easier to see if the tear lines on the different plies of the paper don't line up, and correct the situation by peeling off the top ply.

       When the paper is hung over the top, the person does not have to fumble to find the loose end, which often cannot be seen and is difficult to feel when it is clinging to the roll. The user does not come in contact with the wall, which may not be clean, nor transfer germs to the wall and thereby to later users. The person need only touch the part of the roll which is used, and so need not transfer germs to the next user. The person gets the paper sooner, and therefore gets clean sooner.
       So, why do so many people hang the paper against the wall in their homes? The answer comes from the third of the letters, this time from the mother of a toddler.
       At some stage many youngsters decide it is great fun to unroll the entire roll of paper. Some do this as a prank, as an entertainment, or simply because they have not mastered the skill of tearing the paper off. Either way, the paper ends up in a heap on the floor, and must either be rolled backby the parent, or discarded if it has gotten wet or dirty.
       A solution to this problem is to hang the paper facing the wall. Since the child pulls towards him- or herself, this will usually result in rolling up the loose end, rather than unrolling it onto the floor. By the time the child can reach the end near the wall, the child will be older, and probably more capable and responsible.
       In families with several children, this can result in the paper being hung towards the wall for years. In extended families, with children over a wide range of ages, the paper may end up hung that way for decades. The children grow up believing this is the way tissue is normally hung. They never realize it was hung that way as a defense against themselves as babies. This practice may last for generations in some families.

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