stickahs on our cahs.



Here’s a picture of Frostbite One in all its churned-up-mud-road-dust-caked glory right now. (Quinn thought it needed some Batman logos, which is probably correct. Few things can’t gain from the application of a Batman logo.)

It’s basically pointless to drive this thing through a car wash between the months of December and May. You might as well just set fire to a ten-dollar bill.

Frostbite One is a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan. As a testament to my mostly-shut-in stay-at-home Dad existence until January, I’ve racked up only 94,000 miles on it since we purchased it in late 2005. It’s still in really good shape, though. No major parts failures in over seven years, just the usual wear parts needing replacement. You see a slightly aged minivan that’s still in great condition despite the few nicks and dings here and there. (The dent in the bumper was acquired at South Carolina’s Folly Beach in October 2010, and to date marks the minivan’s only interface with a stationary object.) You see new winter tires, quite a bit of caked-on dirt (again, dirt road), and a really faded oval D sticker above the model name on the trunk lid.

What don’t you see?

Bumper stickers, that’s what.

Despite the Grand Caravan’s substantial, shall we say, posterior, I have not festooned it with any stickers other than that oval D above the model name. Nothing to indicate hobbies, political affiliation, pet causes, or the number and gender breakdown of family members.

I live in New Hampshire, which is fairly libertarian-minded, still largely pro-gun, and really safe when you look at the crime rate statistics. But I routinely have to take Frostbite One out into the surrounding states, and some of them are somewhat less libertarian-minded, to put it mildly.

For example, I own guns and I enjoy shooting, and I have a drawer full of gun brand logo stickers from various purchases and swag events. But I don’t use them on the car because I do not want to drive down to Boston to pick up a friend or go to a con and end up in front of a MA state trooper in a vehicle with New Hampshire plates that is festooned with gun-related stickers (or worse, “From My Cold, Dead Hands” political ones.) I’m a responsible gun owner and follow local laws, but MA has extremely restrictive gun laws that can land people in hot water very quickly. If I go to MA and forget a box of range ammo in my van–or even just fired brass for reloading–I am looking at three years in a MA state prison if said state trooper pulls me over, goes through the van with a very fine comb (because HEY, GUN NUT), and finds so much as a single piece of expended brass.

Then there’s the fact that gun logos or Second Amendment-related stickers on a parked vehicle are practically a glowing neon sign advertising “HEY, THERE MAY BE GUNS IN HERE”, especially in places where the local law stipulates that a licensed gun carrier has to disarm before entering specific places, like a school, day care, public gathering, or restaurant that serves alcohol.

Another concern is the advertising of politically unpopular viewpoints on one’s vehicle, which can be an invitation for property damage by people who don’t appreciate dissenting or “provocative” opinions in their field of view. I have more than one libertarian friend whose Ron Paul sticker was defaced or removed from their cars while they were parked on the grounds of academic institutions, for example. I also know of an incident where a friend’s car was keyed along the side of the door and across the back of the trunk lid where my friend had put an atheist sticker. A lot of people seem to think that some opinions are worthy of immediate fiscal punishment, and the minivan has enough scuffs and dents as it is without some college Trotzkyist or Defender of the Faith adding to that collection with a car key and/or a spray can.

Anyway, that’s why Frostbite One isn’t stickered up like a six-year-old’s My Little Pony birthday party. Hey–there’s a sticker theme that can’t possibly be offensive, or likely to get me a frisking by the side of the Interstate…



34 thoughts on “stickahs on our cahs.

  1. Abso-freaking-lutely. I have exactly ONE sticker on my truck – it’s the one on my window that indicates membership in my volunteer fire department. No bumper stickers, no political ideology, no sports affiliation, no clues to my place of employment, no height-graded stick figures describing my family, from Pop to Pets. Whose car it is and how I live my life is nobody’s business but mine.

  2. I have exactly ONE sticker on my truck – it’s the one on my window that indicates membership in my volunteer fire department

    Same on my car (except it’s a volunteer rescue squad sticker), and for all the same reasons. The only reason I even bothered with that sticker is so that the cops know who I am if I stop at a wreck or something (and yes, I have actually had a detective reach for his gun when I stopped for a wreck I was passing by as we were dispatched – it was NOT a warm, fuzzy feeling to see him sweep his coat back like that when I was obviously the focus of his attention).

  3. It would be better to set fire to the $10 bill. Reduce the money supply, decrease inflation, that kind of thing.

  4. Got the bare minimum: dump sticker, and my Grange sticker “Support Your Local Farmer or Watch the Houses Grow”, which gets positive comments from both sides of the aisle. The front window has the now-required WMNF recreational-permit-sticker. One may look and know right off it is the truck of a rural person who likes something about the outdoors, but not easily guess much else.

    I like it like that.

    Once in a while it will wear a Smokey Bear sticker, but that’s about it. The one I cherish but can’t put on is a pirated (non-Ad Council approved, definitely) version from another state, with a fanged & long-clawed Smokey saying, “Prevent Forest Fires…or I’LL BITE YOUR ASS!!”

  5. I never understood the urge to advertise my life, philosophy, where I want to be or who I voted for. I share your concerns. And in this time of ever more intrusive government (and obnoxious strangers) I value my privacy. Used to have a vanity plate with my ham radio call sign but discontinued that as well. It’s easy to find my name, address and other info on public sites from that.

  6. I can respect the “fly below the radar” idea.

    I mean, I’m already completely fucked on that front, irrespective of whatever stickers I might have on my car, but your minivan is just slightly more low-key than my road warrior ’72 Plymouth. πŸ˜€

    But just to mess with people, I have a … well, window sticker, since my bumper has no flat surfaces large enough for a sticker, advertising for a local yoga studio I went to for a while. “High Desert Yoga — Yoga Is For Everyone”

  7. I have never understood the notion that your vehicle is the ultimate expression of who you are as a human being, thus must be adorned with personal statements – be they political/social (stickers) or hints at performance (lifted trucks that apparently do not go off road regularly, comically enormous wheels, or wings that do little at sane road/highway speeds). A vehicle represents transportation at an absolute level with everything else being projected onto it. If someone is to approve or disapprove of you, let it be via some more direct statement rather than a static message on a possession broadcast to whoever will pay it mind – it’s so much more meaningful and engaging whenever it’s directly communicated.

    • Well, I dunno if it’s what you’re referring to, but for some of us, cars are definitely far more than mere transportation.

      I dunno if I’d say it’s an expression of “who I am”, but it’s definitely the expression of “what I do”.

      *shrug* Everybody’s got a hobby. Mine is weird cars.

  8. You got to pick your hill to die on very carefully. Stealth is good.

    An older minivan driven sanely is about as stealth as it gets. It demographically points towards respectable, sane, middle class, with kids and that basically raises no hackles amongst the police, inspires apathy or pity from the unmarried, etc…

  9. My last couple cars, a blue Volvo station wagon and a white BMW 5-series, I had my NRA Life Member sticker in the window. I got a lot of strange looks at stop lights, especially in the Volvo. My current Saab 9-3 is unmarked by stickers, although I do have Veteran plates on it …

    Also, Marko, if you put a My Little Pony sticker on there? You’d see a serious impact, at least if you bragged about it or posted a picture. The impact would be financial. Bronies are *not* cool, no matter *what* the Intartubes tell you. And re: Batman? He’s pretty much anti-2A.

  10. When I drove a car the only sticker it had was an EGA. Though I put an NRA sticker on the old lady’s Prius because, well, it was funny to me.

  11. After hitting a deer and two pheasants with my ‘Baru, I almost put three little silhouettes on the hatchback. And I’ve been tempted by the as-yet non-existent COEXIST done in starships. Otherwise, nope. I like having a generic vehicle.

    • “I’ve been tempted by the as-yet non-existent COEXIST done in starships.”

      It might not go on the car, but I *SO* want one of those.

      @LT Rusty: Bronies are cool!

  12. The only problem with a MLP sticker would be if you put on something lame like Rarity. You put yourself some Rainbow Dash on there and your ride gets 20% cooler, instantly.

  13. My vehicles are equally devoid of provocative messages. Two dump stickers and a faculty/staff parking sticker are the only clues to my identity, and for the same reasons. While I enjoy a good bumper sticker or a clever vanity plate, it is not for me. Though I do have my old college nickname on my utility trailer plate, that is pretty innocuous.Why ask for trouble from any quarter?

  14. Marko,
    you could push out that dent ( it should be a heavy rubber type construction), if you can get access to the back side of it. Might have to partially dismount it. Slide under with a flashlight and take a look

    I think there are people who deal with this sort of damage as a specialty. Might be cheap enough, especially if you don’t have to make it look perfect. (the paint has a flexible additive in it, so it doesn’t pop off when hit like this.)

  15. I wonder what the new-englanders make of that (D). They understand VT, CC, and even BERK (the creators of which obviously aren’t familiar with the urban dictionary.) But they probably don’t understand that the original oval stickers had a legislative purpose.

  16. Marko,

    You’ve seen my truck. You know how I feel. I’ve worn my affiliations on my back window for years and years, and the only problem I had was with the Senator’s “Al Gore can kiss my carbon footprint” sticker that some tree-hugger saw fit to rip off the back (and leave it, crumpled up, in the bed along with a bunch of trash from his vehicle. Dude’s gonna have a heart attack eating all those McD’s dinners…)

    Also been pulled over twice in the Earthf**ker, once in NH, once in MA. Neither time were the stickers mentioned (and once, the time in MA, the cop was PISSED because I left a little rubber behind at an intersection…)

    As far as letting the bad guys know there might be guns in the car? Meh. Someone wants to break in, they’re gonna break in. Learned that the hard way…

  17. There exists someone in this town with, by my count, twenty-seven bumper stickers, on a vehicle far smaller than a Mopar minivan. Then again, this is allegedly the reddest spot in the nation — out of 77 counties, BHO carried exactly none, two elections running — and most of the folks I know on the right don’t give a flip about people defacing (or, I guess, detailing) their cars.

    Oh, and Twilight Sparkle is best pony.

  18. I have an NRA sticker on my car. When all this latest Federal-level nonsense started up, I thought it was high time to come outta the gun-owning closet. YMMV — and I don’t drive out of state but once a year, if that; and never to my neighboring gun-unfriendly state.

  19. Ayuh. Got a dump stikah and that’s about it.

    Although if I were to decorate, I’d have fun confusing people with a variety of messages. “I’d rather be contradancing” and “Happiness is a belt-fed weapon” might go well together…..;-)

  20. The few “stickers” on my truck are magnetic, so I can remove and replace as desired.

  21. Don’t you reveal yourself as an anti-EU German nationalist (or at least nostalgist) in exile by using that pre-EU regulation licence plate “D” sticker?

  22. Stealth is good. I quickly learned that after I put a Gadsden Flag sticker on my back window. A day later at work in a parking lot full of NPR listeners, my car was keyed. (I should have seen that coming.) Additionally, I find it remarkable the number of families that willingly broadcast the schools their children the attend, where their children play sports/dance/etc., the names and number of their children.

  23. I live in a town adjacent to Cambridge, MA. It is, to put it delicately, somewhat left of center.

    The only reaction I’ve ever had to the stickers on my old truck (e.g. “We support our troops…especially our snipers!”) was one guy tracking me down in a coffee shop, telling me that he was a Ranger before he was in Blackwater, and shaking my hand.

    Still, when that truck died, I did not be-sticker the replacement.

  24. I’ve got my Navy & “Proud Parent of a Marine” vinyl on the inside of the back glass, & “Watch Out for Motorcycles” & the JPFO’s “Raise Your Right Hand” decals on the bumper. Not too worried about vandalism or break-in: after all, this is rural TN. I’m soon to add the “Gun Control is NOT Kosher” from the JPFO; may be redundant, but I’m just doing it to make the wrinklies (funny, I’m becoming one) say, “Dang, Beulah, he didn’t look like one o’ them Jewish fellers” when they see my long-haired, mostly Caucasian, multi-tattooed biker ass in the truck (I love my people, but most are unaware that I could very well be Jewish, that not all Jews are Semitic-looking folks).

  25. One American flag on the rear window. I go to Canada regularly, and I want to flaunt it. Otherwise, I don’t even let the dealership put a “Billy-Bob’s Toyota of Centerville” sticker on my cars. I will allow a license plate frame, if I was pleased with my sales experience.
    My old Cherokee is still wearing the “I disliked Obama before it was cool to do it!” and “Bend Over here comes the change”…loaned it to a liberal friend of mine who had just moved back from Kalifornia to drive for a year while she got back on her feet…her alternate lifestyle liberal gaia loving friends gave her a lot of crap about it until I invited them to go shooting with me.
    Thanks to me, there are now some heavily armed lesbians in central ohio.

  26. I have one of those Calvin & Hobbes riding in a cardboard box stickers and a Sierra Club hiker sticker (Did I say I’m a mole there?) in the little windows behind the back doors. It helps find the jelly bean car amongst the other jelly beans in the parking lot. Them and the roof rack with the full sized spare tire locked to it.

    I’ve been thinking about a license plate frame “I’d rather be competing in HIgh Power at Camp Perry”, which should be sufficiently obscure for the narcissistic hoplophobes in La La land to be safe. Better than advertising the car dealer where I bought the car from the goofball salesman.

    A commenter at Tam’s link to this essay mentioned that someone asked about his “Molon Labe” sticker, so he said it was some Greek fraternity.

  27. I have three (3) stickers on my car (a Honda Civic Hybrid). One with an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, says, USMC retired. One is a US Flag, and one (in deference to my wife) is a AAA sticker so she can have her tire changed if it ever goes flat. I still have idiots ask “did you ever kill someone?”. I carefully adjust my attitude and explain that in 22 years in the Marine Corps, that was what I was paid to do. I carefully refrain from pointing out that it allowed idiots like them to reproduce…not my proudest moments.