Friday, October 26, 2012


Vehicle Tea Leaves, Greensboro, NC

Ever have one of those “Aha moments” when all of a sudden you realize something is missing in your life? I was walking to my car in Home Depot’s parking lot today when I spotted a bumper sticker that caught my attention. It proclaimed, “You Text, You Drive, You Die”! And I thought to myself, “What a nice sentiment—too bad Hallmark Cards didn’t think of this first”. It would have been a nice thought to include in one of their fuzzy, feel good “Thinking of You” cards with some playful bunnies on the front holding paws in a field of green clover. The sticker on the back window read, “I wonder if you’d drive any better if that cell phone was up your butt”! This person seems to be technologically challenged, you think? Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen as many bumper stickers lately as I’ve seen in the past. So, since I’m retired and now have the time for special projects of little meaning, and since I was across the street from a fertile lot of Americana, I reached into my glove box for my trusty camera and proceeded to Wal-Mart.

It seems like I’ve always been an inveterate reader. If you place anything readable in front of my face, I’ll go into autopilot mode and digest every word. I’m programmed and conditioned to read the back of cereal boxes, both in-your-face and subliminal television ads, any sort of outdoor road signs, proclamations on a blimp, plane, train or automobile, warning signs for buried gas lines, etc. Much to my surprise, I actually didn’t find many vehicles with stickers on the back---but I did photograph a few. Could it be that folks have finally figured out that these things don’t add much value to their cars when it’s time to trade or sell them? Or must they prematurely part with them if they change political parties, religions, orientation, marital status, pet preferences, schools, teams, etc.? But it would seem that if someone is predisposed to use bumper stickers on their vehicle, they are generally all in. What I didn’t find were any political stickers, although I did hear that the “Cash for Clunkers” program our crack Congress passed after the last election cleared most of them off the streets! I did spot a couple Kiwanis stickers proclaiming “I’m the Proud Parent of a Terrific Kid”! But I missed the anti-sticker retorting that “My Kid can beat up Your Honor Student”! Alas, it would seem that the age of the Americana bumper sticker is fading fast!

One thing I‘ve also observed is that you can learn an awful lot about a person’s life by reading the tea leaves on the rear of their vehicle. For instance, take the photo of the green SUV I shot in Wal-Mart’s lot. This vehicle belongs to a core family living in North Carolina comprising a mother, father, boy and girl. They possibly have a New York connection as evidenced by their loyalty to both the Mets and the Jets and/or they relate to the New York attitude. And they are quite probably Hispanic as noted by the “Mi Orgullo” (My Pride) Spanish sticker, they worship in a Catholic church as evidenced by the fish symbol over the Jeep insignia indicating their value consciousness, and you can see they have a good sense of humor when you read the sticker proclaiming that “HAPPINESS IS…NO TAN LINES”!

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