Bumper Stickers and Vanity Plates: They’re a Commitment

A friend of mine said, “Bumper stickers are a commitment.”  She has a valid point.  I mean, you’re really putting yourself out there with bumper stickers. Similar to road rage (when you can flip someone the bird and then drive off knowing there will be no consequences), you’re not held accountable for whatever you plaster on your car. Generally, people don’t retaliate based on what your bumper stickers say.

But what if they did?

Take the bumper sticker I recently saw: My Other Car is a 747. Clearly this person must be a pilot.  Now, what if I had pulled alongside the pilot’s car, rolled down my window and started frantically waving my arms while shouting, “Hey you! Yes, you!  You’re a pilot? What airline do you fly for? It better not be US Air!  They lost my luggage and then left it out in the rain.  Oh! And my plane had to sit on the tarmac for two hours.  Real nice!”

Or how about those oval black and white bumper stickers that advertise where you have gone on vacation? (They are usually in code too.  Instead of simply saying “Jackson Hole” they say “JH” or “OBX” instead of “Outter Banks.”) Picture driving up next to a car sporting one of these stickers: “You-hoo! Excuse me!  I notice you have been to Martha’s Vineyard. How was it? Where’d you stay?”

Then there are vanity license plates. Personally, I happen to find these a bit troubling. While bumper stickers can be more general, with vanity plates, you’re sort of announcing yourself. One time I noticed a car in the grocery store parking lot that had a vanity plate. I then recognized the same car in the parking lot of another store the following day. Then at the gym. Normally, I would never have paid attention, but it’s hard not to notice (and remember) a car that has a license plate that reads “PINGPONG.”

I have always found MD license plates a bit irksome. What is the purpose?  Do they simply want people to know they went to medical school? Because I don’t know about you – but whenever I pass a car accident, I have never seen a car with a MD license plate at the scene.

What if we tried to solicit free medical advice from these physicians who advertise their profession? Honk! Honk! “Hey! Thanks for letting me know you’re a doctor!  I need to ask you something.  I’ve had this awful cramp on my right side for about a week now.  Any idea what it could be?”

Vanity license plates could also get you in trouble.  It’s hard to be discreet when you have a license plate that is memorable. Imagine attending your kid’s 6th grade violin concert. You pull into a parking spot and as the family climbs out of the car, some buffoon calls out, “Hey!  It’s JOEYD72! I see your car outside of Pleasure Island strip joint all the time!”

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess I had one of those black and white oval stickers on my previous car.  And I would have been thrilled if someone had honked their horn and said, “Hey! You went to Aruba?  How was it?  I hear it’s awfully hot there.” “Oh it is hot!” I would have hollered back, “but there is a lovely breeze that always keeps you comfortable.”

When I traded in my old car for a newer one, I didn’t transfer the Aruba sticker.  Why?  I didn’t want to take the chance of someone pulling up alongside me in traffic, rolling down their window, and shouting out, “You went to Aruba? Congratulations! Like I care!”

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15 thoughts on “Bumper Stickers and Vanity Plates: They’re a Commitment

  1. Brilliant! I can’t bear bumper stickers generally, but my particular hate is those stickers saying things like “Baby on board”. How, precisely, are we supposed to react to that? “Oh, thanks for letting me know! I was going to drive into your rear end, but now you’ve told me that I won’t.”

  2. I remember reading once that Illinois, where I live, has one of the highest percentages of vanity plates. Personally, I love when people have their names put on their license plates, because then I can use their name as I’m cursing them to get the h%$# out of my way. I’ll never understand why people put their car makes on their plates, like “jetta 5” or “jeep 333”. Yeah, I’m right behind you…I can see what kind of car you drive. You paid extra money for that?

  3. Love, Love, Love! Great bit with the Dr! I used to pass by cars with “baby on board” signs and there would be just a single person in the car – – the driver. And I always had to resist saying, “Maybe the dingo at your baby!” (yeah, big Seinfeld fan too!) Love your material, U.W!

    Okay, Stalker signing off. For now.

    • I never quite understood the Baby On Board stickers either. Is it to encourage other drivers to be more cautious? (“Whoa! I WAS going to rear-end this minivan, but I better not! Being they have a baby in the car.”)

      The bumper stickers that announce what the person likes are always comical. So … they love to knit … or love manatees … or apple computers. I always feel like we are supposed to do something with that information (since they made it public) but WHAT?

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