Yesterday, riding down a Northcote Street I almost fell off my bike when I saw the scene above.

That somebody would put their box of toilet paper out on the street for anybody to take while people fought over packs of Sorbent in our supermarkets got me pulling a joyous u-turn.

A passing couple walking their dog praised the roll-sharers explaining they knew of elderly locals going without toilet paper because of the panic buying.

There is a concept in warehousing/logistics known as Cost-to-Serve – it calculates the value of getting an order from distribution centre to doorstep. 

Cost-to-Serve at its leanest would not allow co-workers to greet each other, slower employees would progressively be rostered down to zero hours and delivery drivers would be forbidden to take a box of groceries beyond the doorstep – no matter how frail the customer.

As the COVID-19 pandemic looms I can feel personal Cost-to-Serve choices shrinking my field of vision down and down to a “me and mine” proposition.

That I am thinking of turning my family into grocery-hording doomsday preppers is unsurprising considering how sacred we hold the good of the individual over the good of the community.

Looking through my Cost-to-Serve lens putting out your box of Who-Gives-a-Crap on the footpath is the height of wasteful naivete. 

But when confronted by this joyfully generous scene I’m suddenly shaken out of my self-serving conditioning.

This simple act of generosity has taken what would divide us and turned it into inspiration to be braver and more giving than I was thinking I’d be.

And when I remember back to all the important things that have given life to me and my community – all have inevitably come from such an act.

Have a great week



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