Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bumper to Bumper

Posted By: Jenn Latino
Look out Atlanta-I am going to be looking good in my new walking digs! This week I received support to assist in my walk preparation from Sandy Lassiter, my personal concierge to Sin City and the reason for my addiction to the slot machines and my aunts, the Virginia contingency. Maria and Joan are Komen for the Cure walkers as well, in memory of my great Auntie Rae. Thanks to these ladies I will have my final pair of shoes to get me to and through the walk, and I plan on refreshing my 3 over washed and thinning training shirts. I am also going to invest in a real rain jacket. The rain jacket I have is great for keeping the rain off of you but also doubles as a sauna. I can’t wait to make a visit to REI to stock up on the gear that will keep me looking fine and feeling great for all 60 miles! Thanks, Ladies!

This week the evidence that fall is approaching was a comfort on my morning walks. The temperatures are at least 10 degrees cooler than they have been in recent weeks and, thanks to the sun hiding for a little longer, I have had to move my 5:45 start time to 6:00am. 15 extra minutes in bed? A sacrifice I am willing to make on behalf of Mother Nature’s seasonal schedule.

Another change to our walking schedule this week is the back to school traffic. Riley and I have made friends with most of the kids at the bus stops (the busses come around 6:20am! Madness!) and many of the parents who, at least for now, accompany their little ones at the corner of the cul de sac. The quiet mornings that have been part of my training since May are now busy and bustling. Fall is definitely on the approach.

I have also noticed that there are many more cars in the driveways of my neighborhood. Perhaps the increase is due to the fact that family vacations have ended and everyone is back in town. It may also be due to the fact that everyone has so much junk in their garages that the cars no longer fit. They should pass some of that off to me for the September 18th New Kids on the Walk Yard Sale! EVERY house in my neighborhood has, at minimum, a 2-car garage. In my count this evening, there were over 90% of houses with cars in the driveway. The actual percentage could be more considering some folks may not actually be parked in their garage but just not be home yet.

I am not judging-I’m actually grateful for the bumpers of cars to look at and help pass the time. I have several car counting games to help keep my mind off my walking. I count how many Hondas appear in a block. How many red cars. How many with roof racks. It’s like a competition between blocks and I declare a winner at the end of every mile.

The backsides of cars parked in driveways also provide some interesting reading material. I have said for many years that it would be a fascinating sociological study to look at the personality traits of individuals who decorate their cars with bumper stickers. I am intrigued by the bumper sticker phenomenon and, as a non stick-er, I have many questions for those who choose to stick.

The cars in The Summit have many of the usual stickers you would find in the suburbs. Every school in the district has a personalized decal so the most frequent stickers that I spot are “Rice Creek Elementary Dolphins” or “Spring Valley Vikings.” The SV stickers are actually pretty neat. They are large green and gold V’s and remind me of the Jimmy V logo. There are also many folks who display their neighborhood pride with a sticker bearing The Summit logo. They gave every resident one last year. My merlot Murano is NOT sporting a grass green sticker with a waterfall inspired logo.

There are also many stickers of colleges and universities. I love these! Another game opportunity! Which car in this block has a sticker with an institution from the farthest away from SC? My favorite is an NCSU sticker on a car with NC tags. Good people live on Misty Morning Lane. Also on Misty Morning there is a car with a Towson sticker. I never cared about it before but now that my favorite ginger, Spencer B is working at TU, I think of him every time I pass that Ford Escape. On another street there is a small black pick up truck with the gate painted with a large green and orange U and a picture of Sebastian. (For my non ACC readers, Sebastian is the name of the Ibis who serves as the University of Miami mascot.) I smile with thoughts of Margaux every time I walk by that truck and I think of her reciting the UM campus tour: “The ibis was chosen at the UM mascot because of it’s resilience-always the last to leave when a hurricane approaches and the first to return when it is safe. The UM colors are orange, green, and white, like the orange trees that are native to South Florida; Green for the leaves, white for the blossom, and orange for the fruit.”

Once you knock out schools/universities/colleges, the next most popular bumper stickers are political in nature. These can really make for some fun games. We are in the middle of a governor’s race! The game of “How many Shaheen stickers are on this block” or “Can you find a Shaheen supporter who lives next door to a Haley supporter?” has been a new addition to my line up. Other than candidates, there are some fun stickers that allow me to make some assumptions about the car drivers. There is a Volkswagen Bug with a covered bumper that displays messages of: Save Mother Earth; My Karma Ran Over My Dogma; and the Recycle symbol. My dad would refer to this person as a “Damn Liberal.” The Volkswagen must have given it away.

I have some favorites like: My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student; My Dog is Smarter Than Your Honor Student; or my next door neighbors who have an image of a buffalo with the words “My Hometown” underneath. They are from Buffalo, NY and have a daughter who attends SUNY-B. But if you didn’t know that, it would be a pretty funny thing to see on the back of a car.

I also like the little people lined up across the back window. By “like” I mean, I enjoy making complete fun of the people driving those mini vans with their little stick people family all in a row. The mom and daughters are always in a cute little dress while the dads and sons are in shorts, wearing baseball hats. They are getting fancy with these decals. Recently I have seen pets added to the mix, families wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and kids donning their favorite activity gear (ie. baseball bats, ballet shoes). I know Kim McE will have something to say about this since she not only has her family lined up on the back of her SUV but also the words “The McElroys” across the top. (I love ya too much to make fun of you to your face, Kim! You are going to need a +1 on the back of that car real soon ☺)

The biggest mystery about bumper stickers in SC is the Team Ashley sticker. I have seen HUNDREDS, no exaggeration, HUNDREDS of cars with yellow square stickers that read Team Ashley in green letters. I have Googled it, looked for local schools with the name Ashley, and asked several of my passengers when we see a TA sticker. No one seems to know what this very popular bumper sticker club represents. If anyone can tell me, I’ll give you a shout out in next week’s blog.

I’m not a car decorator. But, 16 weeks into my training, I’m grateful for those who are. Bumper sticker watching has made for a wonderfully entertaining pass time as I stroll the streets of my neighborhood. When you are out walking this weekend, take a look at the backs of the cars on your streets and send me your best finds!

Happy Stepping!


  1. Jenn! The two greatest bumper snickers of all time were spotted in JoCo - 1st runner up: "Why am I the only person who knows how to drive?" And the winner: "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crispy and taste good with catsup."
    BTW - it fell a flood in JoCo yesterday in honor of Beverly Gibson's retirement party!

  2. I assume you have been counting Jesus fishes also?!

  3. This might be your answer... A girl named Ashley Dent who attended Spring Valley HS, was killed in a car accident four years ago. Her friends wore bright colored shirts that said "Team Ashley" in honor of her bright spirit. My guess is that they made bumper stickers as well. Here's the article: