In a movie based on a John Grisham novel, the main character is a ten-year-old boy who helps a fake psychic with her customers. While each new customer is settling themselves inside her office, preparing for their reading, the boy is outside examining the exterior of their car and peering into its windows, searching for clues to their beliefs, favorite teams, causes they support, family life, etc. The boy feeds the information to the faker. Then the “psychic” weaves a story filled with enlightenment as details come to her. “I sense you have a child…no, wait, two children. Boys? No…one of each. How wonderful for you.”
Let’s face it. Our cars say a lot about us and close scrutiny isn’t required.
Bumper stickers can run the full range of emotions. My favorite of the funniest is, “I’m speeding only because I really have to poop.” The saddest one I’ve seen made me want to get out at a red light and give the driver a hug. It read, “I refuse to smile until the world says it’s sorry.” Maybe it was meant ironically, but that one struck me as belonging to a person who was really hurting.
Even more than bumper stickers, personalized license plates tell the world our story. The message is not always clear or easy to figure out though. Sometimes I’ll spend my entire commute trying to figure out what one means. I say them out loud, emphasizing different sections of letters. Sometimes, as with the fake psychic, that produces enlightenment.
And as with bumper stickers, personalized license tags can express or produce emotions. What I consider the meanest one I’ve seen is this: “IDH82BU.” I’ve given that tag every benefit of the doubt, and I can’t produce any meaning other than an unkind one. But I forgive them.
Through personalized tags, people can reach out to their non-USA countrymen: “WACHA M8”
We can also share our way of looking at life or maybe just our sporting team inclination: “4UNDRDG”
This tag might explain an owner’s erratic driving: “LOSTNL8”
A tag owner can tell us how she thinks of herself: “ARTCFOX”
My personalized tag of “LFTED UP” was the first step I took to launching my own company. I purchased it two years prior to forming a legal entity and obtaining a federal ID#. My car proclaimed my hope and my goal before a single page of this website was created.
I wonder what other drivers think when they read my tag. Might they imagine I pump iron? Or that I’m a helicopter pilot or hot air balloon navigator?
The other day at a gas station, the young couple in front of me leaned on the back of their car, facing me, while both our vehicles were filling up. “Hey!” the boy called out to me. “Your license plate is awesome!” “Thanks,” I replied, and thought to myself, “Why, yes it is.”
To my readers: Share an interesting license tag or bumper sticker you’ve seen.