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Posting thoughts on your bumper can be sticky

If I’m in my car at a stoplight and it seems to be taking longer than preferred, I handle it more easily if the vehicle in front of me offers a clever bumper sticker or two. My personal favorite is “Fat People are Hard to Kidnap.”

Now that driver, no matter what their body mass index, had a sense of humor.

Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said, “I’d Be Glad to Help You, But I Misplaced My Wand.”

I like that one too, and it makes me feel sympathetic toward the person who placed it there. I envision the car’s owner as a parent whose teenagers have asked for too much, too often.

What you place on the back end of your car says a lot about you. My husband has a sticker on the bumper of his 13-year old truck that says, “My granddaughter is on the dean’s list at the University of South Carolina.” And she was — in one particular quarter. Even if she never achieves that feat again, his proud acknowledgement is permanently available for all to see, including our grand-girl when she comes to visit.

My hubby’s placement of the sticker was just a little crooked. That says a lot about him as well — not only proud but eager to get his acknowledgement in the public eye quickly.

I have no car decals, but have you seen those simple, oval stickers on the bumpers of cars that say 13.1 or 26.2? I always wondered about those. They apparently indicate the car’s owner has run a half marathon or a full marathon. If I’d accomplished either recently, I think I’d visibly proclaim it too.

You learn about a person by what he or she plasters on the rear end of a vehicle. No one asked, but here’s my take. Political messages, strong religious statements or anything about guns — pro or con — seems unwise. You know someone passing you will be disquieted or disagree. Why pick a fight before you even have a dialogue about the topic? And if the person whose lane you want to get into does not like your sticker-stated inclinations, you will definitely have a more difficult time getting to your destination on time.

Other reasons to think twice before placing even one sticker: Getting that baked-on bumper or window message off the car when you want to sell it is usually difficult and will, in all likelihood, ruin the paint job. Although I suppose if you placed the sticker there to cover a ding, it’s another story completely. You definitely narrow your market of car purchasers if you keep stickers on, but some people buy cars because of a particular sticker, I am told. Like all things in life, it’s about informed choice.

I did see a bumper sticker recently that was very special. It simply said, “Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad.”

Yup, that’s my new favorite.

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@hmj.com.