18 July 2009

Sic Transit Gloria Sticker

Two hundred sixty-two days.

That is 262 days.

Or 8 months and 21 days, depending on how you figure it.

That is how long my "Obama/Biden '08" circular magnetic sticker lasted on the driver's door of my car.

The numbers here are approximate, since I do not remember the exact date I put it on, but it was about a week before election day last November.

Strange thing, this magnetic sign. It looks just like a sticker, but is, in fact, a sign with a magnetic backing. In other words, anyone could have taken it off my car at any time.

It was handsome, mostly blue, with lettering in white. There may have been some tiny details in red, also.

I tried putting it on the back of my Ford Focus. But there was not a single flat space big enough for the circular emblem. So then I decided to put it on the driver's side door.

More than one person remarked that it looked like I was driving the Obama/Biden staff car.

Because it was just a magnetic sign, I thought from the beginning that someone would swipe it. In the few days before the election, I thought it might fall victim to some zealous John McCain supporter.

So, whenever I came back to my car, I wondered if the sign would still be there. It always was.

I remember parking at my polling place on election day. Surely this would be the day when some wise guy would take the sticker. Or maybe it would disappear in the hands of a too-enthusiastic Obama voter? But no! When I returned to my car, there it was, as always.

And so it has been, ever since.

Or had been.

My car lives out on the street in front of my place at night. And I live by a popular corner bar. There is lots of foot traffic all day and all evening, and many happy or disgruntled drunken people issue from the bar every morning just after 2am. And they all walk very close to my car.

Granted, most of these giddy or angry drunks are on the sidewalk, with the Obama/Biden sticker necessarily facing the street, instead.

But in any case, the sticker had lasted all this time. That's something like 8.69 months, depending.

Last week I was sitting in the front window of Whole Foods, with a good view of my car, which was parked right there in the first row of spaces. As I sat there eating my dinner and computing, a car pulled into the space right next to mine. I had backed into my space, so as the blond woman got out of her car, she was facing my driver's side door.

She looked down at the sticker. She reacted with her whole body, even out to her frizzy, pouffy hair, with some kind of shuddery disapproval. She looked around her for a moment, looked down at the sign on my door again.

I was watching her from maybe 30 feet away, and she did not see me. I really wondered if she was going to peel off the sign. For just a moment her whole body seemed to say "I'm gonna peel off this sign! How easy it would be!"

And what would I do? Would I run out and confront her? Follow her around the store and nail her that way? Intercept her as she checked out? Or just let the incident go as a piece of fascinating quotidian drama?

All this ran through my mind in somewhere like 0.476 seconds. And then the lady turned and came into the store.

So once again, the sign was safe.

Over the months of living with my sign I had come to realize that most people are not going to even think of removing such a thing. Many people would not give it a second thought. Many others take it for a sticker, and so the idea of removing it is even further away from their minds. Who is going to remove a sticker? And of the people who actually know it is an easily-removed magnetic slap-on sign, how many would think of taking it off. . .and for what reason?

Imagining who might actually go to the lengths of reaching down and taking a magnetic sign off of another person's property becomes an exercise in one's personal definitions of values. It is an odd thing to think about. Right off hand, I would rule out 99 out of 100 people. Maybe even a higher percentage than that. It just seems so unlikely. Would you do it, reader? Under any circumstances??

You'd think it would be taken, if taken at all, by an Obama hater. Some deeply teeth-grinding individual who cannot stand to even see our president's name displayed in public. Someone who, further, feels they have a mission, and that that mission makes it alright for them to cross the line of another person's property.

But I can see it being taken by an Obama devotee, as well. Just an Obama devotee who is a collector, and one who has a rather cavalier conception of boundaries.

Or maybe just a drunk from the bar across the street who comes out and says "Hey, look! This comes off!!"

Whatever their political affiliation, personal values, and blood alcohol content, this person by chance or design encountered my car sometime Friday.

I had spent a few hours at the Central Library, with my car in the Cultural Facilities Parking Garage. When I got back to my car, I did not notice if the sticker was there or not. The garage is dark, and I possibly could have missed its absence. I had long since given up obsessively checking to see if it was still there.

From there, I drove home for a brief stop. I parked a few spaces down from my place, right across from the bar. I was inside no longer than 15 minutes.

And when I came out, the sign was gone. The silver door showed some dirt circles where it had been for so many months, moved slightly a couple of times.

I did not look for it around the car or in the street, where one hypothetical type of person might have sullenly hurled it. I did not go over to the bar and ask the patio patrons if they saw anything.

I did wonder, of course, what very specific type of person would have done such a thing.

And I did entertain some half-baked wonderings about where the Obama presidency is at this particular point that someone would unceremoniously rip the emblem off my car.

But the world is a big and hugely multifaceted place. Things happen for any number of complex intersecting reasons, or for no reasons at all, or for ones we might not be able to figure out.

I liked my sign, and I'll miss it.

Sic Transit Gloria My Obama/Biden Circular Magnetic Sign!!

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