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Who You Are: The Back of your Car

by Jessica Brandt

So I do a lot of driving, I see a lot of cars. I see a lot of road kill, I see a lot of cel phones, I see a lot of cops. The thing that intrigues me most, I think, is the phenomenon of bumper stickers.

So many people have them...on their brand new cars, on their leased vehicles, on their clunky old jalopies. They range in topic from politics to advertisements and to plain old silliness.

I don't understand why someone would put a bumper sticker on their car, actually. Stickers are pretty much permanent. If you can get the sticker off, then it woulnd't be fit to stick to your bumper, would it? Those things must be heavy-duty if someone can keep a "Bush/Quail" propaganda sticker on their bumper through six Ohio winters.

Some stickers, I admit, are pretty funny. One I always see in the parking lot I park in is "Witches Parking- All Others Will be Toad." Ha HA! I also like "Your child may be an honor student, but you're still an idiot." This is much classier and funnier than the usual "My child beat up your honor student" that we always see on old Caravans and Suburbans.

Then there's the blatant advertising bumper stickers. How can anyone be so loyal to a product or a service or a company that they purposely mess up their car to advertise for them? In Northeast Ohio, I see more country music and adult contemporary radio station stickers than anything else. I can't believe there are so many country fans and fluff-headed AC lovers. I think what happens is that people go to station-sponsored concerts, get drunk, and then on their way out the station hands them some bumper stickers, and before they sober up and realize what they're doing, the station has free advertising.

So what about this other form of advertising...the political advertising? People leave these stickers on their cars for ages. The person doesn't win, they still have this dumb bumper sticker. The person gets caught in a major political scandal, they've still got the sticker. Ten years pass...still the sticker.

Then, of course, the messages. "God if pro life!" (not from what I read), "Animals are people too" (no, they are animals) and "Choose life- Don't eat meat" (Uh...) They seem to carry a little more point to them than advertisements or quips, but still it's more of a war between bumper stickers than anything else. No 12"x3" sticker on the back of a 1984 Yugo is going to make me change my mind about what I eat, who I worship, or how I vote.

So what is the point of having bumper stickers? To express yourself to a bunch of passing vehicles, to people who will probably never see your face, let alone remember you? Is having sixteen ska-related bumper stickers going to get you that Rude Girl you always wanted? No...maybe wearing some band's t-shirt will. Do you enjoy messing up your car? Do you enjoy causing near-accidents as other people strain to read your borrowed words of wisdom? I bet you do.

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