what does your back end say about you?

When I was 16, my commute to high school was no more than five minutes. I noticed things like “Mean People Suck” bumper stickers and rows of Grateful Dead Bears dancing along rear windows. In college, from home to school was a four and a half hour drive. I primarily looked for college stickers, wondering where fellow born-in-the-80s college students were attending. Are they on their way home? Home for the holidays? Or heading back to school? My commute to my first job: my two feet. I recognized new pieces of garbage along the curb, who shovels their walkways and who doesn’t, and when flowers were beginning to spring from the ground. Now, my commute puts me in the car 20 minutes in the a.m. and 20 or more minutes in the p.m. That’s 40 plus minutes of music, NPR news...and staring at the backsides of cars. What I’ve realized – other than I should invest in an iPod adapter for my radio versus having CDs knocking around ever nook of my car – is that you can tell a decent amount about someone from checking out their rear (pun intended).

It’s not the make of a car, the year, the shiny paint job or the rust forming around the wheel wells, but what people physical choose to display. For example, a vanity plate can tip you off to a person's name, nickname, favorite sports team, lifelong hobby, profession or ill attempt at humor. And how about those white stick-figure decals? The other day I saw one of a woman and two dogs, not much ambiguity there: she’s single and lives with her dogs – that’s one way to get the word out that you’re available. Then there’s the car with the “Mom,” “Dad,” and three “kids” with each child’s top sport represented with the appropriate icon next to them: a soccer ball, baseball or football, etc. And yes, pets included. (It was a large vehicle; I could get why.) 

Moving on to bumper stickers – they’re out of control. You can find a sticky statement for just about everything: religious positions, political stances, movie quotes, bands, and the list goes on. What else? How about the dangly items straying from rearview mirrors: a garter (she’s either married or still hoarding possessions from high school); popsicle-stick crosses and hand-strung florescent colored beads (he has children); Yankee Candle Jar air freshener (she likes things to smell pretty); ear pieces (they value safety); parking tags (he’s a student, then again, he could be a professor, hmm). Just the other day I saw a guy driving a car, no stickers or decals graced his vehicle, but what I did see was a mini boxing glove hanging from his rearview mirror and a silver-plated frame of palm trees surrounding his license plate. My immediate thought: he enjoys boxing and visiting the tanning booth – even in the summer.

In the narcissistic society we’ve evolved to, it’s hard to think that someone would decorate their mode of transportation without any thought as to what it would tell the world about them. That thought alone, paired with what I’ve seen on my daily commute is frightening. But as my Dad says: “To each there own and provolone.” (A statement created clearly for the rhyme rather than reason.) As for me, I like to take the "less is more" stance. The only thing my car "says" about me: ADK.


Anonymous said...

Grateful Dead? Mean People Suck? Those were on your car! :)

jessielynn said...

You must have driven behind me a few times in HS, no? It would explain why you seem to remember more about what I had on my car's rear than I do myself...ha.


jessielynn said...

Better yet: touche.