Driving down I-5, I see a variety of cars, from the beat-up pick-ups to the giant trucks to the mom-mobiles.
Every once in a while a car will slow down enough to where I could easily see the interior and the driver. With just a few clues, I try to figure out what that person does for a living and what they’re like just by catching that small glimpse. The best hints about the lives of these strangers comes from the bumper stickers smothering the back of some cars.
Bumper stickers are a fairly underrated form of advertising. People place logos, brands, and sayings on their car for the outside world to see. It is the cheapest and easiest way to get the word out to the public. Simple, clean, and effective? Or does it show that the owner of the car merely has a strong stance on an issue that he/she needs to show to the world? Do more bumper stickers on a car mean an angrier person?
In my opinion, yes to all the above.
In order to have an effective sticker, it needs to be clean, readable from far away, and simple. Too many words can get lost in the jumble and promote other drivers attempting to read it to get into an accident.
It has been six years after he ended his second term and “George W. Bush for President” is still sitting on the back bumpers of cars. By placing the delicate piece of tape carefully onto your car, you are solidifying your stance. When it comes to political campaigns, an NPR host reasoned that, “the glue on the back of the bumper sticker is sort of a metaphor for the glue that then is going to stick you to that candidate.” Although not all stickers may make a huge impact on the public, I think the people who place it there believe that it will. I have yet to change the way I live because of a bumper sticker I read. But, they can be good reminders.
Some parents love placing not one, but ten “Proud Parent” stickers over their back windshield, which, ironically, may interfere with their ability to reverse safely. They want to prove to other parents out there how superior their child is comparatively. Sometimes you see the very religious Christian bumper stickers that reflect how good they are and how God is always watching when they make that illegal U-turn. And then you get the soccer moms who place stick figures representing their family members in a row because I’m sure the person behind really wanted to know. In comes the giant SUV with “Sugarbowl Skiing” and “Keep Tahoe Blue” stickers smeared across the backside of the car to show the public how sporty and environmentally friendly they are by driving their gas-guzzler.
My theory is that the more bumper stickers you have placed on your car, the angrier of a person you are. It makes sense. The more you want your voice to be heard, the more agitated of a person you can be. I find that people (like the nut-so rat lady’s car in the photo above) want to be heard. Whether you are an avid environmentalist, a college student with school pride, or a scarily obsessed rat-lover, bumper stickers are an easy way for people to hear your voice, whether they want to or not.