Something Stinks

Eli Long

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Recently, I read the literary classic The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The novel revolves around the antics of a conflicted teenager in a series of events that can mostly described as melancholic. I’ll spare you the standard book report summary, however, and get to the point of this allusion. At one point, the protagonist is visiting his sister’s elementary school and is dismayed as he notices a profanity that for the sake of a high school publication can only be described as “fudge.” He proceeds to wipe it off only to come back later and find it carved into another spot.

Now I know what you’re thinking, ” Why am I being narrated a scene from an old book I don’t care about?” The fact that it is old (published in 1951) is what makes it important. A whole 65 years ago people and students were up to these shenanigans just like we are today, again, because people are the same as they have always been. The apparent systemic war on school facilities is a plague that has been around for at the absolute minimum, 65 years.

Every bathroom at North High School has currently, or has had a sign threatening to shut down these vital necessities. Yet it continues to happen everyday, always a new swear word, always a new crude drawing, always a new poll as to what the reason to my current residence in the vandalized stall exactly is.

So why does the battle on school property rage on? Why are these guerilla war tactics of ambushing in a person’s most vulnerable moment with only a sharpie and a t-chart so prevalent they’ve been around for approximately four times my lifetime? Don’t worry. I used a calculator, the math is solid.

In my expert opinion (it’s ironic I’m an expert on very few things) these drawings on the wall are because people naturally want to rebel against something. Perhaps these bathroom wall bandits feel they are sticking it to the man by taking these actions, though I really have no reference having never participated in such tom foolery (the preceding phrase is again ironic, being that I would under normal circumstances not use the words tom and foolery in conjunction to describe something). Perhaps these people feel the need to express themselves in a peaceful protest, relieving themselves of teenage angst and debaucherous thoughts by their graphiti. Or maybe it is just in the nature of young people to mess with school property and has been for years and will be in the proceeding years in the future. Perhaps someday one of you will be wondering why the youth of today has no respect for their restrooms like they used to in the days of yore. So maybe we’re just a society destined to look at somebody else’s graffiti forever, as a friend of mine says, “That’ll happen.”

So what am I prattling on about?

I suppose the purpose of this may have gotten muddled in a few tangents. The summary of this is we can look for definite answers in life about why somebody would destroy the pipes in the bathroom, or why the authority over bathroom upkeep would keep threatening to close them if this continues even though that tactic is clearly lacking in efficiency, but realistically there is no definite answer, and this battle between vandal and the governing body will be going on indefinitely with no real solution in sight. It is also just as likely all of these bathroom shenanigans have made me too much of a pessimist to put any real effort into coming up with a true motivation so feel free to enlighten me if anyone has a future solution.

Unfortunately the conclusion to this stream of consciousness may just all be the ramblings of a whiny millennial. But as the same person said, “Can’t win them all.”

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Something Stinks