Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vehicular Overshare

Over the past several years, a disturbing trend has taken hold in America that threatens the very safety of our children. I refer to it as “vehicular overshare” and it occurs when a proud parent utilizes automobile decals to proclaim their offspring’s hobbies/interests/accomplishments to the rest of the driving public. Stereotypically these decals appear on SUV’s or mini-vans and include the child’s name paired with a baseball or a set of pom-poms to associate each youngster with their chosen activity.

As harmless as this may seem, I find it ironic that we will go to great lengths to protect our children from predators by talking to them about strangers or coaching them on what not to divulge on the Internet and yet we willingly advertise the most valuable information a predator can have on the back of our cars.

For example, my wife and I were recently in Louisiana and found ourselves behind a Chevrolet Tahoe on the Interstate. From the 45 seconds sitting behind them I learned that the following: 

  • They have a daughter named Claire who is a ballet enthusiast.
  • Claire attends the Fran Trezvent School of Dance.
  • The Fran Trezvent School of Dance is probably located in Allen Parish.
  •  Claire is most likely an only child.
  • Claire is probably between the ages of 8-13.
  • Claire’s mommy has not yet located the turn signal on said Tahoe.
    The first two facts were plainly discernible from the decal that had Claire’s name spelled out between two ballet shoes below the words “Fran Trezvent School of Dance.” I can surmise location of the dance school since glancing at the license plate told me the car was registered in the Allen Parish. I inferred that she was an only child because her name appeared on both sides of the rear glass leaving little room for the accomplishments of younger siblings. Her age was a guess based on the fact that she did not appear to be in a car seat but was probably not yet at the age where she would have insisted her mom remove such “embarrassing” decals.

    Keep in mind, this was all without looking up the school in question on Google and reading an online schedule to determine the exact date and time Claire’s age group would normally meet. Some parents have even chosen to add “stick figure family” decals that would confirm the existence, number and names of Claire’s brothers and sisters. Very often these decals will include the dog or cat’s name which is often used as a safety word for a young child being picked up by a relative.

    Personally, I plan to use “vehicular overshare” to protect my children by throwing would-be predators off the trail. I have designed a “stick figure family” decal that will utilize androgynous silhouettes and false hobbies to misdirect those with nefarious intent. For instance:

    Child A’s name with be Trachea and they will be on the shuffleboard team at the “Triscuit Academy for the Violently-Disturbed Blind.”

    Child B’s name will be Honorarium and they will be deeply involved in competitive hatchet tossing at the “Dixieland Militia Pre-school Academy.”

    Both children will enjoy playing with our parrot “Mesothelioma” and our pet llama “Marie Callender” when we are not attending services at the “Greater Unitarian Agnostic Worship Bunker.”

    I believe that in some ways the trend is a natural extension of the auto decals that were popular when I was in high school. These usually consisted of a man’s name on the driver side of the vehicle and a woman’s name on the passenger side. Apparently they served as a constant reminder to other motorists that “Billy’s” commitment to “Cindy” is every bit as serious as a removable vinyl decal would suggest.

    In fact, the window decal seemed to replace the class ring as the symbolic commitment of choice amongst high school kids. Once a girl’s name was enshrined on the window of somebody’s Chevy S-10 she was as good as betrothed. Many times the couple’s demise would be marked by a somber ceremony whereby the truck’s owner would peel away his girlfriend’s name, and by extension, her betrayal.


    1. Very funny !

      For the old timers out there - remember the Baby on Board signs ? What a rip off.

    2. i agree! i can't stand the family stick figures lined up accross the window of the mini van


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