Have you seen all these oval stickers on people’s cars lately? You know the ones I’m referring to: They’re usually used for identifying the nationality of a car in Europe as you can change countries and languages there as easily as we change states here in the US.
You see these things everywhere now, almost as if we were all living in Luxembourg or something and for me it’s almost become a game to decipher these things while I’m on the road: VT for Vermont or Pb for Leadville, Colorado…
Obviously there are some drivers out there who aren’t very good at the game and now “zip code” ovals are becoming all the rage… I saw a car yesterday from Washington State with an 80443 oval plastered on the rear window… 80443 is the zip code for Frisco Colorado.
But why? Why are these things popping up *everywhere* now? What is it that drives people with Ohio plates to put a Leadville “nationality” sticker on their car?
Maybe it’s because of things like mega-malls and clone stores like McDonalds. Every home town is suffering right now; local mom and pop record stores replaced with “Sam Goody”, the local farmer’s coop hardware store with the really friendly old guy who gives you free sodas in the summer is now a 200,000 square foot “Home Depot”, and the gas station your buddies used to work at for next to nothing just so they could tune their cars on the lifts is now a computer controlled junk food store with 28 pumps… Hell, even your bank that used to sponsor a community picnic in the summer is now a massive multinational conglomerate owned by folks who don’t even live in your town, let alone your state or even the US.
The simple fact of the matter is that you can go *anywhere* and get the same McBurger, the same brand of ice-cream from the same chain grocer, and buy gas from the same gas station you saw a few miles back… There just isn’t any adventure out there anymore. Everything is safety caped, warning labeled, and cloned for our ease of consumption.
Chances are, even your house is a clone of your neighbor’s house, and his neighbor’s house… Sure, you might have a different color of paint, but even that was agreed upon by the housing community you live in.
I think this is why these ID stickers are popping up everywhere. For example, Leadville is still an authentic human civilization with authentic humans living there… No clone-homes, no “Super Wal-Mart”… Even the gas station has a real human being who will happily talk to you about the weather as you fill up on $2.00 per gallon gas, not a sterile LCD screen wishing you a nice day as long as you come inside and buy a hot-dog.
People want to connect to that sort of feeling; a human feeling of community. These stickers mark one as being connected either by visiting or even living there. They are a statement that the owner has seen what life should be like, that the owner has seen the sunset in a clear sky, the sound of wind in the trees, had the pleasure of human contact. The sticker is a badge of an ideal, a symbol of a place that exists outside the glass and steel monotony of day to day living. A place free from glaring high rises, house sized billboards, and eight lane side streets…
Maybe, just maybe, the fact that people are so enamored with these stickers is a good thing. Maybe we intrinsically, deep down inside, all desire the things these stickers stand for. That alone gives me hope for us as a people.