On vanity plates, big cars and road rage

[In which I offend ‘all’ of my readers who drive enormous luxury SUVs with vanity plates]

Several years ago, the professor and I were driving around Minneapolis. Because that was where we were living at the time. If memory serves, we were merging onto westbound I-94 from Washington street when I spotted a Lincoln Navigator in front of us. It was the biggest car I’d ever seen.

It was, in fact, so big that I actually made up a song (Phoebe-style) right there in our comparatively tiny Jeep Cherokee. ‘Is your car big enough, Mr. Lincoln Navigator…Mr. Lincoln Navigator is your car big enough?’ Paired with some ill-timed guitar strumming and a wobbly voice, it could have been a great song.

Fast forward eight or so years and I’m living in Range Rover land (aka southwest Calgary) and can’t help but gawk when a Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX56 or GMC Yukon XL skulks past my humble Venture. ‘How big do you need a car to be?’ I inevitably mutter….to myself.

My objection to such gargantuan vehicles isn’t based on anything virtuous like the environment, though 14 miles per gallon is not exactly ‘green’. I think it’s the extravagance (a nearly six-figure-price-tag here in Canada) and the seeming need to have the biggest car on the road. [Which, if you care, is the Yukon XL 2500 SLT or the Suburban 2500 LTI. Though the no-longer-in-production Ford Excursion was bigger, still.]

Speaking of pointless extravagance, and maybe all extravagance is pointless, I seem to have a beef with vanity plates, too. I think it goes back to 1994 and a young man named Chris (pronounced Cree-yus if you’re a Hoosier) who drove a thoroughly pimped out Chevy something or other with the vanity plate I C U Looking. I don’t remember how he spelled ‘looking’ to make it fit on his Indiana license plate. But the message was clear.

And I’d walk down the main drag of the University and ‘hear’ Chris drive by in his pimped out ride with his presumptuous vanity plate, and it made me chuckle. Every time. Which is more or less the same reaction I have when a Prussian blue Maserati slinks past me with the word ‘IMAGE’ on the back. Or the Jaguar with ‘WALLSTRT$’. It’s not about the money, or the seeming need to draw attention to one’s own awesomeness, I just think if you’re going to put something on the back of your car, it should be clever. Not obvious.

BOBANDSUE is not clever. Neither is JONES or JOE N JEN. RXGOLF borders on cleverness, but it also smacks of ‘hey, look at me, I’m a doctor!’ Which is just too long for a vanity plate.

I was waiting at a red light a couple of days ago with the Hen and the baby sitting in the back of the car. I noticed a red pick up truck pull up beside me and, even though my windows were rolled up, I could hear the guy shouting ‘F___ You!’ My first thought  was about the scene in Modern Family where Mitchell is yelling about his inconsiderate boss while talking to Cameron on his cell phone. All while said boss is sitting in the car next to him, waiting for the light to change. When Mitchell realizes this, he freaks out, wondering if his boss had overheard the conversation.

‘His boss did hear him,’ I thought to myself after listening to the man next to me yell ‘F… you’ at the top of his lungs. (I can’t remember what happened in the episode.) And then I had to know. Who was this guy yelling at? The car in front of him? Or was he yelling at someone on his hands-free-cell phone device?

He yelled the phrase 3 or 4 times during the short time we waited at the light. When the light changed, I watched him slowly raise his hand….to the car in front of him….and flip off the totally unaware 60-ish year old lady in front of him.

Watching this relatively normal-looking guy thoroughly and repeatedly curse at a completely oblivious woman, I got it. People are buying gynormous vehicles as a means of self-protection. So I will be buying a Suburban….. just as soon as I can find a buyer for my kidneys.

3 thoughts on “On vanity plates, big cars and road rage

  1. ah yes creeis and the pimped out chevy chevette the marvel muncie indiana… not quite as presumptuous as the “Bonzi 1″… Which is like saying, just wait one day I will be ballin in China making mad money and I will have a fleet of these babies…

  2. Adrienne, excellent! But if I only sell one kidney, I’ll never be able to afford a fancy SUV big enough to protect me from the crazies.


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