Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bumper Sticker Blues

I am a commuter. I commute.

I'm lucky, these days, to have a short commute. I drive about a half an hour in each direction, morning and evening. But, even with a short commute, it can get boring. The predictable swerves while being cut off by an aggressive CFO in an Audi or Lexxus; the routine screech of my brakes as an Urban Hoosier in a maxi-cab dual-wheeled truck changes lanes without checking his oversized mirror; the same old crew of EMT's scraping commuter guts up off the roadway in a flash of red and yellow lights blurring into the stories of starvation in Darfur on NPR can become such a yawn that I find myself looking for something else to do to pass the time.

If you stare at the car in front of you long enough, you'll notice that about one in twenty or so has a bumper sticker on it. It should be no surprise that, in this day and age, the messages are somewhat polarized along political lines. Since I'm bored right outta my skull in traffic, I often find it interesting to read the messages on the stickers and correlate the message with the type of automobile and imagine what the driver must be like.

I have noticed that "Imagine World Peace" is almost always on a Volvo. It's like it's a standard feature. I often wonder, since Volvo's are known for being safe automobiles, if the person driving that car really wants world peace or is just scared of everything. Or, maybe it's a badge of honor for the patched-sport-coat professorial types.

Trucks tend to broadcast more conservative religious messages. "Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve" is a biggie with the supercab set. I've even seen the one with the boy bathroom symbol, a plus sign, and the girl bathroom symbol, an equals sign, and the word "marriage" on a few trucks. One time I saw a woman driving a truck with one of those "It's a Child, Not a Choice" stickers and wondered if maybe some people don't value choosing and prefer instead to be told what to do. Or, maybe it's just a pass key for better parking at the megachurch. Hard to say.

Out of the cars with bumper stickers, you'll notice that about one in ten has more than one. And, about one in twenty is covered with the things. I guess, for these folks, one sticker isn't enough. "No," he said to himself, "the seventeenth sticker still didn't quite deliver the message that God hates you for aborting your unborn child. But, THIS, the eighteenth sticker... yes, my mission is now complete!!"

They see no harm in the redundancy. These are probably the same people who shout you down at a party when you bring up a nuanced or slightly different point of view than theirs. Even if I happen to agree with one of their stickers, I usually vow to avoid these people should I ever meet them and become aware of their sticker-ishness.

Maybe my opinion of bumper stickers was adversely affected by my Dad's experience with them. He never put a bumper sticker on any car he owned. However, once he did receive a bumper stickering. We were on vacation in Branson, Missouri back in the late 70's before the big Branson boom, and Dad got us tickets to see The Baldknobbers show. While we were in the theater, some kids who worked for the show had been instructed to put a Baldknobbers sticker on every car in the parking lot. When we came out of the theater and Dad saw the sticker, he was furious. He stormed back into the box office and demanded they send someone out to scrape the sticker off the chrome bumper of our 1970's era Chevy wagon.

I have only ever put one bumper sticker on a car of my own and it was the one that said "Hungry? Eat Your Import!" I put it on the bumper of a 1978 Plymouth Arrow. It was supposed to be an ironic statement. Plymouth imported the Arrow through Mitsubishi, but plenty of my relatives were pleased that I bought a Chrysler product, since they all worked there. Hey, I'm down with unions, but my point was misunderstood at the time.


Blogger tonypatti said...

It's a fetus, not a child.

10:45 AM  

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