Around 1982, when "Baby On Board" signs first appeared on car windows, social trends started shifting away from neglect and negativism, and toward protection and support. The abortion and divorce rates receded somewhat, teacher salaries gained ground, and a flurry of new books chastised parents for having treated their kids so poorly in the 1970's. This abrupt shift in societal attitudes marks the beginning of the Millennial Generation.

-----taken from the book 13th Generation: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss

I wonder what, if any, societal attitudes are to be credited for the stuff I've seen in the rear windows and bumpers of vehicles in the last few years that I've been an active motorist. There are a few categories they could all be shuffled into. The only clause I would include in this nodes is that, despite my opinions, these stickers have equal right to be viewed, whether they are universal truths or blatant lies or, as they usually are in their reflection of our own nature, a combination of the two or none of the above.

Humor, or poor attempts thereof. They range from the smirking Baby Boomer to the more than jaded teen or post grad. You can buy them in any mall these days, but I think they originated at gas stations, back in the day where auto related things all stayed in pretty much the same area. They mark the reader as one of us or one of them, the recipient or facilitator of the joke. The ones I've seen of late have more to do with the ever increasing age divide, whether exemplifying retirement as a choice career move or mocking the attitudes of the elderly. Trite and seldom witty, these ones are among the most successful in their endeavors. Everyone can identify when a joke has been said, whether it's funny or not.

Political. These are usually on sedans, station wagons or trucks driven by people who actually pay attention to what politicians say or don't say and vote accordingly, with fervor and a conscience. Since I do none of the above, they express to me only that the driver is not up to date. He still gauges time in terms of presidential terms in office. He seems to always be trapped in 1996, and he is almost always the slowest driver on the road. He is always in my way.

Scholastic. From elementary school to college, we have available to us all the ways to commemorate our educational gains by way of semi-permanent banner stickers that seldom say anything more than the name of the institutions from whence we received our credentials. When they do, it's either some pithy school slogan or it pushes the academic success of the driver's children: Honor Student, Varsity Letterman, Best 6th Grade Speller. My own parents have my college's name reflecting on the high end of the rear windshield, and to them it is a fond reminder of me, that I went further in my education than they did. Ironically, the people that drive these cars find their way to my shop more often than I would like to admit, so I am led to believe that they look behind them too much, clinging to a past accomplishment.

Religious. These can bleed into the humorous bracket, depending on the reader's perception of the message conveyed. I am more liken to the simple Jesus fish symbol, since it is not gratuitously one-sided. Ones talking about angels or the Rapture or drugs seem to meshing a whirl of beliefs into a single trite statement that, if the owner really stopped to think, would not convey him in the truest of lights. Even anti-religious stickers are conveying a religion in its own right; most rebellions of a standard will contain remnants of the opposing view, whether people admit this or not. I've seen cars with miles of homemade Bible verses delicately pressed onto the rear panels and back glasses of cars, making them more a moving billboard than anything. I think about the owner in his garage with sheets of lettered stickers he bought at Home Depot, trying to convey his beliefs with such an earnest devotion, and I find it sad to say that his message is lost before it's ever applied.

Product Endorsements. Sometimes it's pissing on a Ford symbol, or a band logo, or even the type of insurance you carry. It's something you support so strongly that you want everyone to see it, you want to proudly endorse it on your possessions. Even the emblems on your car do that: self-promotion. Nowadays, car can sometimes only be identified by what we are told they are in gold or silver lettering, they look so much alike. As far as bumper stickers go, it is one of the few ironic ways we unite, through our consumption.

Pensive. We're not talking environmental causes or economic platforms. These are the stickers that actually ask us to think. They can be taken from any of the aforementioned categories, but they add a little twist. They are usually just words, a single statement that tries to be more than the sum of its parts. You have to read them twice. You may find yourself asking a question or sparking a debate on its subject matter, or contemplating the person that made it, or the person that bought it and slapped it on.

There are more than these, but you get the idea. You should know by now that I think too much about mundane shit, but I ask you if you're willing to node some bumper stickers you've seen that have had an impact on you, good or bad, stupid or worthless. Stickers still have the power to get a reaction. Otherwise, we'd never have thought them up in the first place.

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