Bumper Stickers

I am consistently bemused by the things people will advertise on the back of their automobiles. It’s politics season and certainly the political propaganda is out there. There are the basic stickers promoting one candidate or the other. These people really amaze me. It is 2012 and we have seen enough elections, and lived through enough Presidencies, to know by now that we are essentially choosing one flavor of horse feces over the other. It’s not necessarily the fault of the candidates, but that’s the reality, “the system.” We’re voting for the spices the politicians will employ to make the horse feces go down easier, but it’s still horse feces. For people to muster enough enthusiasm to go out and paste a promotional sticker on their cars – it indicates a pathological optimism I don’t share.

Then there are the classics, and I like some of these: “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for,” “My Other Car is a Piece of S*** Too,” and my personal favorite: “Horn broken, watch for finger.”

But we’re in an age where people aren’t satisfied to simply buy off the rack. Ink jet printers and vinyl sticker paper have generated a renaissance in the evolution of the bumper sticker.

I was behind one guy who had a sticker, more a piece of paper really, taped to the back window of his truck cab. The printing was small and I had to drive dangerously close to read it, but it was worth it. The elucidating gem read:

“The word of the day is “legs.” Spread the word.”

I got an admittedly juvenile laugh out of that one.

There are a lot of duck hunters up here, and for the most part they will assume the role of “conservationists,” their bumper stickers are minimal outlines of a duck’s head, or wingspans. Then there is the apparent redneck that goes to the same bank as me, and is not pretending to worry about future generations of water fowl. On the back of his Chevy he’s got the following slogan, emblazoned in 6 inch high vinyl lettering: “IF IT FLIES, IT DIES.” There is no attempt to disguise the pure pleasure he derives from blasting feathery creatures out of the sky. Of course my mind has to go and get literal, so I’m envisioning this guy blowing away dragonflies and hummingbirds. Do they make “bee shot?”

Finally we come to my nominee for most perplexing. Recently, I was behind a guy who had one of those dippy “COEXIST” stickers, that you see plastered on every other Subaru, stuck on the back of his pick-up. But this was clearly not his motto. Instead, he had also added the figure of Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, situated in a way that made it look as though Calvin was urinating on the ‘COEXIST” slogan. To make it very clear, he’d even inserted the word “ON” between the urinating Calvin and the “COEXIST” slogan.

Now I can certainly empathize with the general misanthropic instinct, but to go and display this on your truck like a badge of honor is demonstrating another level of commitment. I sort of want to party with this guy, just to see what makes him tick.


Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.