From: Demolition Man
Who said it?: Erwin
The story behind the quote: The quote comes from the Sylvester Stallone film, Demolition Man. The movie tells the story of John Spartan (played by Stallone), who is tricked by Simon Phoenix (played by Wesley Snipes), the main antagonist of the film, into making it appear that Spartan accidentally killed some civilians. Both Spartan and Phoenix were frozen for their crimes. In the future, Phoenix manages to escape imprisonment (long story) so Spartan is thawed out as well to capture the criminal.
The quote comes from the middle of the film. Since the film is set in the future where a lot of technological advancements (and “peace” has been “achieved”), Spartan is still having trouble adjusting to the culture. He mentions that there is no toilet paper in the bathroom. Lelina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) explains to the rest of the police force what toilet paper is. Spartan then quips that, instead of toilet paper, there’s a shelf containing three seashells. Erwin (Rob Schneider) snidely remarks that Spartan has no idea how to use the seashells.
Spartan then gets to talking to a police officer he knew as a rookie and, while reminiscing, gets fined for using profanity. He then goes up to the machine printing out the tickets for the fines and uses a few more expletives, collecting a huge wad of paper. He then comments that he doesn’t need the seashells, implying he’s going to use the tickets as toilet paper.
Geek wisdom: Sometimes, we may come across situations that we have no knowledge on how to resolve (like how to use the three seashells). In these situations, we have to rely on our creativity in order to get around these issues and figure out alternative solutions to the problems.
While John Spartan will eventually figure out the three seashells, he needs to use the toilet now. So, even though he does get fined, he managed to get his own version of toilet paper in the future. He managed to address his need immediately by using a creative solution. We need to go look for alternative solutions to problems, especially if the direct solution cannot be figured out immediately.