Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22266 – 782:
Here’s the haps:
“Not again!” Art Vegan was really, really annoyed. His job as health inspector left so much room for jokes on his name that he was very touchy about it. “Hey, Art! What do Vegan zombies eat? GRAAIIINNNSSS!!!” “Hey, Art! Can I tell you a vegan joke? I promise it won’t be cheesy!” He was happy to at least be a big guy because he could usually intimidate people with a mean look and a growl and they would leave him alone. Actually, Art had a good sense of humor, and the first seven thousand times he had heard some of the jokes and saw some of the memes he laughed. But it got old after a while. It had been worse as a teenager, growing up in this small town. All of that had prepared him for his job, however. He had learned how to ignore the ignorant and he learned how to be tough. His size served him well when he went to inspect the tattoo and piercing places but even there, they’d look him up and down and say, “Where do you get your protein?”
He often admired the art on the walls of the tattoo parlors but never for a moment let on that he had a secret hobby. He had picked it up from his groovy Sixties’ mom. That was how they named him. His hippie parents had hoped that their son would at least grow up to be an artist and a vegetarian and not working for “The Man.” They had given him his name on the birth certificate and never looked back. Arthur Daniel Vegan. Art D. Vegan. Art. He loved to draw and paint and watch the little birds come to the feeder outside his window and paint their pictures. He could never talk about any of that, of course. He had a persona to maintain.
Joe Burger was new in the department and it was Art’s job to show him around town and introduce him to all of the different places they would be going. None of the others in the department liked him. He was high-strung and moody and snapped at everyone. Nobody was sure how he’d even gotten hired. He made a perfect partner for Art. They hit it off well because apparently with a name like Burger you caught a lot of flak as well. They compared notes and jokes and became good friends. In some ways, they were pole opposites, though. Art always, even though every place in town knew him and knew him well, still freaked people out by ordering a hamburger, pink in the middle with double cheese and bacon, at the diner. Joe seemed to only ever order salads and green stuff. Art never pushed the issue because he knew how it felt to have people always making nosey questions and stupid remarks about what you were eating.
It all came to a head one day as they were making the rounds. “Have you ever done an inspection at a meat-packing plant before?” Asked Art.
“No,” Joe seemed nervous and upset, “But I guess it’s part of the job, huh?”
“Yes. Yes, it is.” Art looked Joe square in the eye. “Have you ever been to a slaughterhouse before? It’s disturbing to some people. It’s part of the job but we can do it a different time if you want to wait and steel your nerves.” Art watched as Joe danced around nervously, scuffling his shoes in the dirt. He knew. He had figured it out pretty early on in their friendship. He wanted Joe to tell him, though.
“Look,” said Joe, “I never figured it would come down to this. I figured that as a health inspector I would be going into restaurants and checking temperatures and suggesting new and improved sneeze guards. Stuff like that. I…I have been in a place like this before. I was a teenage kid and…well…it affected me.” Joe looked Art squarely in the eye and said, “I’m a vegan.”
“You know? How?”
“Your shoes. I do know some other real vegans and they all wear that brand. They’re usually a lot more in my face about it, however. I just thought our friendship would be better off if you told me rather than if I poked and pried and prodded. I knew this would be a trigger. Look, Joe, you don’t have to go in here with me today. As long as one of us writes the report it’ll be fine.”
And that was how the beginning of a friendship turned into one of the biggest private consulting firms. Their business model was one that was novel in its approach. They created a certification program that would independently verify restaurants that claimed to be organic and vegan. Their standards were higher than government standards and when it got around that they were doing this, legal restaurateurs would pay a lot of money to have their certification hanging in their lobby. Yes, “Art D. Vegan and Joe The Vegan, LLC” really took off. They branched out into art consultations as well. World-famous decorators would come to talk to Art about their ideas and buy his paintings. Art was happy and Joe became less high strung and more relaxed because he was finally able to put his convictions into shoe leather. Er, so to speak.
I mentioned the other day about the strange things that the WordPress Reader pops up. Some of them are pretty entertaining but have nothing to do, really, with any of my searches. Blogs I read have very diverse content and I am supposing that’s what generates prompts like, Art, Vegan, Health. But instead of a search prompt, what if it were the name of a character? Art Vegan, Health Inspector.