posted by Matt W on June 4th, 2014

I recently had the privilege of spending the night in the Chicago Airport. Nasty weather had diverted our Chicago flight to Des Moines, and when we finally arrived in Chicago, our connecting flight had been cancelled. They booked us on a flight leaving the next morning.

They handed us a half-off hotel pass and mentioned that, as an alternative to a hotel, they had cots set up at the far end of Terminal 3. As it was already past 10 PM and it was free, we decided to just stay on the cots at the airport. At 4:00 AM the next morning, it didn’t seem as good of an idea because they made us leave the area to get the terminal ready for security. It might have been nice if they would have mentioned THAT the previous night; oh well.

So as I’m waking up the next morning, I straggle into the men’s restroom and proceed to find an opening in the wall of half-awake men. While standing at the urinal, I notice the word VEGAN, scratched in the tile above the urinal, written in all caps about 1” high.

When I was a kid, pretty much every bathroom had some form of writing or drawings on the walls. While most were just rude or stupid, every once in a while there was a real life lesson to be found, a humorous joke, or the work of a budding artist with a gift for bringing to life the female body right there above the toilet paper holder. Pretty much every stall of every restroom had some portrait or phrase grace its walls. Lately, I have noticed that it is a forgotten form of communication.

Until now.


Now it might have been the low level at which my brain was functioning at the time, but I couldn’t come up with a stranger word to be carved into a bathroom tile. While the quality of the thoughts produced by my sleepy brain weren’t the best, the quantity was right on track for my always churning, cerebrum.

My first thought, if this was the negative ranting of a restroom vigilante, wouldn’t they have been more verbose? A “Vegans Suck!” or “Vegans are arrogant snobs!” or maybe a joke like, “How many vegans does it take to eat a bacon cheeseburger? One, as long as there isn’t anyone else in the room.” But no, just one word, VEGAN. Maybe the protester got interrupted or finished mid scrawl.

Then I looked at it from the Pro Veganism side but couldn’t think of a vegan I know that would deface public property.

Next. A social scientist would certainly like to know how people thought about the word, but in the end they would be frustrated with the lack of gatherable data.

Perhaps a philosopher messing with my head? Dozens of potential suspects raced through my weary mind as I also promised myself I would go with the half-price hotel the next time.

In the end, I went with graffiti-proof tile salesman with a dry sense of humor. Really, who else could it have been?

File Under Jack of all Trades