Lost Journal: Car Window Stickers Meet the Demand to Brand

Journal entry:  October 2, 2007 (age 38)

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but greed is the father, and boredom is at least one of the godparents.  Necessity explains the fact that in 1968, the United Nations Vienna Convention on Road Traffic updated the rules requiring “country tags” on vehicles crossing international borders.  Most of these country tags are oval-shaped, white window stickers with a few black letters that represent a particular country.

Greed and boredom, on the other hand, explain the fact that similar tags became popular novelty items in the United States.  The U.S., Canada and Mexico are exempt from the country tag requirement, which means that the tags are completely irrelevant here.  But that didn’t stop American entrepreneurs from selling tags signifying anything from the driver’s favorite vacation destination (LA) to the college they attended (UVA).  Some status seekers display stickers for every place they’ve been to in their more-important-than-you travels, creating an SUV-as-steamer-trunk mystique.

I’ve always been one to jump on a bandwagon just as the band is being fired.  (For example, I waited until 2001 to get a job with an ill-fated dotcom, and I am currently considering a condo investment in Miami.)  Therefore, I am launching my own idea for white, oval car stickers with black letters.  I think the window stickers should announce to the world what we like to buy at drive-thru windows.  Sure, the guy behind you at a red light might not care that you’ve been to Burkina Faso (BF), but he might think more of you if he knew that you like supreme beef chimichangas (SBC).

The possibilities are bounded only by the public’s appetites.  If they’re proud to drive a tank-sized car so that their once-a-year trip to a Christmas tree farm is a little easier, shouldn’t they also be proud to be a regular consumer of super-sized cheeseburger platters (SCHZ)?  In addition to letting everyone know that they are the parent of an honor student, they could also let us know that their kids come first at the drive-thru, with a simple HMZOOSTRAW sticker (Happy Meal with strawberry milkshake and limited-edition Zooey Deschanel as Ms. Edmonds in Bridge to Terabithia action figure).  Specialty coffee aficionados could give each other knowing smiles on the highway. “Hey, cool breeze, how’s that shade grown Mexico decaf (DEFMEX) treating ya?”

The preceding paragraphs provide ample evidence of the boredom component of invention.  Now for the greed part.  I plan to launch a commercial offering of my services as a drive-thru food acronym-izer.  So, as American consumers happily glom onto what I hope will be the next big fad –  namely, vehicular announcements of recent gustatory exploits, I stand ready to make their messages…well, shorter.  For the reasonable tag price tag of $8.95, I cannot be expected to provide the window stickers themselves.  What I will provide is the assurance that drivers can efficiently tell the drivers they’re passing on the highway that they are on their way to eating yet another Extra Large Medium Ranch Fudge Wrap (ELMRFUD).

Tim Mollen
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