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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sti(cke)r Crazy

Bumper-stickers always kind of got on my nerves, and so I never thought, growing up, that I would become the kind of person who'd want to put any on my own car.

Turns out, I was wrong about that.

Not only do I have several bumper-stickers on my car, I actually had one custom-made, just for me, and I'm pretty convinced that, because it was an original creation, I'm the only person in the world who drives a PT Cruiser with a bumper-sticker that says:

"WARNING: Gilbert & Sullivan Freak Behind Wheel"

After all, I think it's only fair to alert other unsuspecting motorists in the immediate vicinity that the vehicle rolling near them is being operated by a less-than-sane Anglophile who might, at that very moment, be singing the patter song, "My Name is John Wellington Wells" at the top of his lungs and rolling his "Rrrr's" while driving.

It's probably more dangerous than texting, though I don't think enough empirical research has yet been done.

I have another sticker on the back of my car, and it is the Pennsylvania Department of Health seal, which only certified Emergency Medical Technicians are permitted to display. While I no longer work on an ambulance, I am still certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an EMT until 2011, at such time I will either have to renew my certification or, I guess, peel that sticker off my car.

There are lots of reasons why I keep that sticker on my car, even though I quit my ambulance gig back in 2007. First of all, it lets people know that the PT Cruiser with the blue dashboard light flashing that stops at the scene of a fresh car accident is supposed to have that light, and is supposed to be there, and contains someone useful who can be of service. It says that if you've been hit by a car or you've been shot in the back or you've just had a stroke, that this is a car you can stumble over to and ask the driver for help-- and I'll give you whatever help I can remember how to give. I've got an emergency EMS bag in the back with some tools of the trade-- not many, though.

More than any of this, I display the sticker because I'm proud of the work I put in to become an EMT. In my class of thirteen, only two of us hung around long enough to get to the State Certification test, and I was the only one who passed. I worked for seventeen months for crap pay, got a bullshit performance evaluation that resulted in a disgraceful 33-cent-an-hour raise, suffered through an endless stream of incompetent, irrational, psychotic, delusional, violent, unpleasant, odoriferous partners and patients and only crashed one truck and, damnit, if I'm entitled to slap a sticker on my car's ass, well, I'm going to.

The other sticker on my car is from a non-profit organization that I support, financially and through my writing. It's the Officer Down Memorial Page ( and it was started by a young man named Chris Cosgriff, approximately my own age-- a civilian who, like me, found himself deeply moved at a very young age over the tragedies of law enforcement fatalities in this country. On opposite ends of the country, he and I share a lot in common, and, in our twenties, we both decided to do something about it. I wrote a book, Chris created a non-profit. The ODMP features a small profile of every single police officer who has ever died in the line of duty (either of natural or felonious causes) since the first recorded police fatality in 1791. There have been over 16,000 since then, and the ODMP honors every one of them. They have also been very kind to me, keeping the ever-flagging, modest sales of my book on life-support by stocking my book on their online giftshop.

A lot of people probably think I keep the bumper-sticker on the back of my car so I don't get stopped by the police, so they know I'm a friend-- but I don't give a shit about what people think. Besides, it doesn't work anyway. I got banged for speeding just this year, and the fine was as steep as Mt. Olympus.

The three bumper-stickers on the back of the car that used to be owned by my wife tell the stories of three very different, very important parts of my life, and I like all three of them very much. I'm very interested by the things people choose to slap on the back of their own cars, these little tidbits of information that tell us things about the driver.

"Keep Honking, I'm Reloading."

"Like My Driving? Call 1-800-EAT-SHIT."


"Vote for Ron Paul"

"Abortion Stops a Beating Heart"

"Visualize World Peace"

"I <3 Jesus"

I wonder what Jesus thinks of "I <3 Jesus" bumper-stickers. No doubt he appreciates that there are deities out there who could benefit from publicity more than he. Even I know who he is. I say his name every time I hurt my knuckle on a doorway while carrying the laundry basket.


  1. i used to have a bumper sticker that said "God was my co-pilot but we crashed into the mountains and I had to eat him."

  2. The only bumper sticker I ever had on my car was a "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" sticker, and I put it on there because my car overheated on the way down, so I figured that since Mt. Washington nearly killed my car, the sticker was kind of a badge of honor.

    I also liked the outdoorsy, slightly nerdy message it sent to others. Because I'm an outdoorsey, slightly nerdy person myself.

    Also, be careful with that EMT sticker. In NJ, if you fail to provide care or provide inadequate care to a person in need, they can actually sue you.
    That's why Brian doesn't have one on his car. The last thing he needs is a person stroking out in a parking lot while he's driving away and them suing him later because, let's face it, suing is the American way.

  3. Wonderful.
    I love reading about your time as an EMT.
    Plus, you're hilarious. And adorable. (That blog "sticker" says so!)

    And to the above commenter? Let's run away together.

  4. Also, Lily, I love you. But I meant phairhead.

  5. Lily-- you're quite right about the EMT sticker. I've always stopped at emergencies when in my personal vehicle-- before I had the sticker on there and after. Whether the patients would call my care "adequate" is, um, well, for them to decide. Fortunately, I think they're all still alive.

    I see rendering aid whenever and wherever possible as part of my duty, part of what I signed on for. Plus, I'm just a fucking whacker at heart.

  6. Best bumper sticker I ever saw:

    Dual Airbags (pic of Bill) (pic of Hillary)

    I laughed and laughed. And I even voted for Bill, twice. Don't hate. But damn if that bumper sticker wasn't funny!


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