Monday, October 30, 2006

Bumper Biography

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.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I agree about the kid stickers. I'm appalled by them.

Nancy said...

Remember those "Baby on Board" thingies? I found one that said, "Mother-in-law in Trunk." Didn't have the courage to put it on the car, though.

My daughter found a magnetic ribbon that says, "Support Magnetic Ribbons!"

And what's up with advertising where you go on vacation? Incredibly pretentious. Or ridiculous----depending on where you went, I guess.

Great post, Brenda! You hit a nerve with me.

Brenda Roger said...

Nancy, I always figure that if all of the goobers I live near go to OBX, then that is the last place I would ever go on vacation. Those are the exact people I'm trying to get away from!!!! MIL in trunk, heehee.

Tory said...

My bumper sticker says, "Get a past life, too!" I figure those who understand it get a good chuckle, and those who don't will stay away. What better way to screen out the strangers on the road?

I do remember one guy, when I was parking in Squirrel Hill, come up to me and ask what it meant. I was tempted to say, "Like any joke, if you have to explain it, it's not funny."

Tory said...

P.S. My favorite bumper sticker is, "Eve was framed."

Joyce said...

I hate those magnetic ribbons. They have one for everything any more. And I seriously doubt that much money goes to the causes they are supposed to be supporting.

Brenda, I agree about those OBX stickers. I think all those people really do go there. I didn't like how crowded it was the one time I went.

I'd like to make a sticker that says OCD. I wonder how many people would buy that one!

Di said...

Bumper Biographies are running rampant in Boca. I am waiting for the magnets that read, "My Son scored 1600 on his SAT's" or "My Daughter was accepted early admission at Harvard."

My bumper bio is limited to a Ron Jon sticker (which I think says even though I'm 44, I'm still kinda cool) and the sticker that allows me to use the dog park. So I guess I'm advertising that I have a dog!

Kristine said...

The most I advertise on my car is when my yearly inspection is up and that I love my dog.

I totally agree with you about the children magnets. Along the same lines, some of the houses on my street have crafty sign posts with the names of all the occupants inside. Also a bad idea, IMO.

mike said...

I was always of two opinions about bumper stickers: funny for those I liked, stupid for those I didn't! This political year, I jumped into the BS world and got two, one railing against the Current Occupant (as Garrison Keillor calls him) and another against that PA senator up for re-election. So far I've had the finger flipped at me once on the Parkway West and some decidedly unfriendly looks from people in Mt. Lebanon and at work. When the election's over, they'll be coming off.

Brenda Roger said...

Ron Jon surf shop is cool. Is it still open 24 hrs?
I've seen Tory's bumper sticker and thought it was hilarious.

My car says nothing on the back, which says, "please don't notice me and find a reason to be nasty to me in traffic." Hmm. I might be a little paranoid, but only because everyone on the road is out to get me!

All I can say about a sign in front of the house that says who lives there is "WOW".

Brenda Roger said...

Mike, I live in Republican land, so I fly under the political radar to avoid being run off the road. These chicks in SUV's are already trying to run me over to avoid being late for soccer practice, (or to get to OBX). Hang in there, the election is almost here.

Pat said...

I enjoy bumper stickers. They constantly amaze me with their simplicist expressions of complex ideas...except for "I heart dog heads." There's not much else to say about that issue. What's not to love about a well-rendered pooch's puss? woof!

Annette said...

Great post, Brenda! I must say, I've never seen the kid stickers, but the idea is appalling. Those folks need to also have one that says "Moron behind wheel." Sheesh.

Gina said...

I guess I'm in the minority because I kind of enjoy reading bumper stickers, although some leave me scratching my head. Like "Vegetarians taste better" -- I've never been able to figure out whether it's meant as a sexual compliment or an invitation to cannibalism. [As a vegetarian, I really need to know in case I'm ever in a fender bender with that driver . . .]