by Brenda Roger
Recently, while sitting in traffic, I was contemplating what about Americans makes them want to post information about themselves on the arse end of their cars. I live in the ‘burbs, and so I am assaulted by this information for two reasons. I spend a lot of time in the car driving to the city, and people in the ‘burbs are particularly fond of bumper biographies.
Am I just paranoid, or is it a REALLY bad idea to post the names of your children, accompanied by a megaphone or a soccer ball, on the back of your car? Wouldn’t that give a child predator an advantage if he could approach little Susie or Johnny and use their names and ask them how cheerleading or soccer is going?
The “support our troops” ribbons even bother me. Even if you are against the war, could anyone really be against people brave enough to go to Iraq and fight for their country? It isn’t the troops that people have the problem with. Also, I suspect, most of the people with a yellow magnet on their trunk have done ONLY that in order to “support” the troops. They must not realize that they have actually just supported the dollar store.
When I was in college, I had a friend, we’ll call her Jane. Jane had a very conspicuous yellow car with a vanity plate bearing her first name and last initial. She drove quite a bit for her job and the toll taker on the turnpike would frequently call her by her first name. Even though she knew that came with the decision to have the vanity plate, it still caught her off guard and made her uncomfortable. Also, the staties pulled her over on a regular basis, and when they were unable to actually name any traffic violation, they would ask her things about her wheels or engine. They just wanted to see who was driving that car.
The car was gorgeous and a convertible. We had great fun in it, but I can’t help but think it was a liability where her safety was concerned, especially with "JANE B" on the plate. Although, the staties one time asked her if she was allowed to drive the car because her father’s name was on the registration, and she was able to reply with “my name is on the license plate!”
I’ve been known to enjoy a bumper sticker or two. Like the one on the back of a municipal construction vehicle that said, “I’d quit my job, but I need the sleep”. My aunt used to have one that said, “My other car is a broom”. Some of us who have seen her in a mood found that particularly hilarious. My favorite one lately was not on a car, but in a store. It said, “I have the perfect body, but it’s in the trunk and it’s starting to stink”. Maybe it is to a person's advantage for those around them in traffic to know that they have a sense of humor.
I’m not against bumper stickers. I just find it fascinating that people want everyone on the road to know something about them. Traffic is a place where anonymity is my friend. You never know what kind of weirdo aspiring writer is sitting behind you at a light reading your bumper biography.