Saturday, March 5, 2011


The problem with mental illness is that typically you don’t know you have it until someone else tells you, or until you diagnose yourself. Most people are unwilling to diagnose themselves. However, recently I’ve begun to feel as though I might suffer from a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

I don’t wash my hands a dozen times a day or eat my food counter-clockwise or lock the door repeatedly. I read automobiles.

For example, I read vanity plates, often maneuvering in traffic to get a better look. Because of the character limit, some of them can be cryptic puzzles. “NGOTI8R,” for example, or “RCKTMN.” Others are simple, such as the two I saw in one day a few months ago: “HUGEEGO” and “FREUD.” How funny would it be if they were involved in a collision?

I know this doesn’t seem like much of an obsession, but if I can’t figure one out, it bothers me all day. But that’s just a small part of the problem. What really consumes me are bumper stickers and decals.

Most are textual, so they’re not especially hard to figure out. Others are in the form of symbols or images that don’t make immediate sense. I try to group them into categories. The top two categories are Decorative and Affiliations. The Decorative category holds those items that are displayed solely for their aesthetic value.

The Affiliations category holds those items that indicate the preferences or formal memberships held by the driver. They fall into sub-categories: Religious, Military, Professional, Sports, Ethnic, Political and Entertainment. Usually, I can pick the category from a distance, and identify the exact affiliation when I get a little closer. Entertainment is the hardest, because unknown bands often have unintelligible names or strange logos.

On my daily commute, I often see the same vehicles, which have become familiar to me. There’s the lady with the “Never, Never, NEVER Shake a Baby!” bumper sticker. And the guy with a dozen stickers: 11 espousing extremist political opinions and one that says “Coexist.”

But there’s one car I see all the time, that bears this indescribable image, along with the message, “XD28NE:”


The image resembles a scarab beetle, or perhaps a radiation warning sign. I thought it might be an image from a video game, or a band logo – but a Google search of “XD28NE” reveals nothing.

The unsolvable mystery of this image is driving me insane. Please, if you have any idea what this represents, let me know. I’ll be eternally grateful, and far less likely to run this person off the road to demand the answer.


Holden said...

Great, now it's going to bug me. Thanks man,

Tim said...

I'll tell you what it isn't. It isn't a HAM radio call sign - I checked. It isn't an FAA-registered aircraft tail number - I checked. There isn't any medication I can take to erase it from my brain - I checked.

Burton Meahl said...

I share a fascination with this subject, for different reasons. I guess I did not realize that it actually consumed you. I found that out when I asked you about 2NTN OUT - 4 days later (after the cryptic message had completely left my mind) you texted me your thoughts and then called when I did not respond to get closure.

Tim said...

Hey some people see details and with that they understand everything has meaning. I'm the same, I googled this sitting behind the car.

Sander Gelsing said...

I saw the same sticker up here in Canada, but with a FQY76D instead of the XD28NE. So I'm thinking the message is some sort of serial number identifying the owner of the vehicle. Some further searching resulting in finding that it is called a TRAVEL BUG and that it's used in Geocaching.

It's a trademark of Groundspeak, Inc. - see:

More info can be found here:

wall decals said...

It is useful to me

Unknown said...

Omg I only found this article because I'm sitting behind 2NTN OUT and cannot figure out Wtf it means.... HELP

Unknown said...

Omg I only found this article because I'm sitting behind 2NTN OUT and cannot figure out Wtf it means.... HELP