When I was six I came home with an honor student bumper sticker from my elementary school and I asked my mom to put it on our family car. She looked at me and said, “we’re really proud of you for your grades, but putting stickers on the car lowers it’s resale value so we don’t really do that.”
Being six, I did not realize that this was code for “I do not want to advertise your academic achievements on my car because I think that it’s tacky.” I did, however, internalize a distaste for excessive car stickers. And, honestly, I feel that a lot of people are really excessive.
I have seen Suburbans with soccer balls declaring their kids’ names and numbers, school stickers, W support, and neighborhood all at once. I now have enough information about these people to check their kid out of school and all I’ve done is sit behind them at a red light.
I frequently see a car driven by a woman that has about 20 stickers including a gay pride flag, a pro-choice message, and one that urges all religions to coexist. I, perhaps mistakenly, assumed that unwanted pregnancy would be self-regulated in the gay community. Is it just a sense of feminist-issue solidarity that encouraged her to stick the pro-choice one on her car? Maybe it’s like tattoos and once you have one or two you wind up with 50.
At the YMCA, I see a lot of family stick figure stickers. I’ve seen mom, dad, son, daughter, dog, cat, and today….duck. Really? Duck? At least it looked like a duck. Maybe it was a parakeet. Are there goldfish? Turtles? How often do these animals ride in the car?
I also saw one where the mom sticker was gone. All that was left was a sad, dusty outline of the former stick figure. Is that the final step in the divorce? “Kids, Daddy and Mommy are done and, I’m sorry to say, we’re taking Mommy’s sticker off the car.” Since that one was on an SUV at the YMCA at 10 in the morning it probably just fell off, but it still seemed like a poor message to offer the world.
I also saw a thin middle-aged man with only one sticker on his blah-colored Camry.
It read, I “heart” My Wife.
My first thought was that this was the dorkiest bumper sticker I had ever seen. Then I remembered how many “Kid Chess” stickers I have seen and I changed my mind. My second (or third, maybe) thought was that at least it was a pretty good one-thing-you-want-the-world-to-know-about-you. Much better than the people whose one thing is I “heart” My Yorkie.”
I’m not saying you should never have a bumper sticker. In the past, I have displayed my collegiate pride on my rear-view window. Gooooooo Dawgs! (Yes, I realize it is embarrassing that my university’s cheer is misspelled. If you think that’s bad, you should hear how we pronounce it).
Let’s just try to keep the message simple. And, perhaps, make sure it’s something you really want to say.