Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Question for the Community: Car Sticker Etiquette

A reader Question:
I am curious to know what readers' opinions are with regards to stickers on cars.  It seems like it started off as a somewhat charming way to personalize your car, and some are truly necessary in cases like campus parking lots, but now it often just seems loud.   I am tempted to put one or two on but feel a bit self-conscious.  What do people think?


75 comments:

  1. I'm planning to get one of those "Bitte ein Bit" decals. That's about as far as I would go.

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  2. I think one or two little stickers are okay. Unfortunately, in many cases it's huge stickers used as status symbols (public schools, elite universities, prestigious sport clubs) which I perceive as pretentious. Understatement always wins in my opinion.

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  3. Good question! Of course, stickers and decals should not be placed in any position that reduces the driver's view. While I limit them on my cars, I find college or heritage decals to be interesting. Stickers which pertain to sports, politics, or attempts at humor with puns are somewhat tacky and excessive in my opinion.

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  4. I have Colgate and Kenyon decals on my car, enjoy reading the stickers on other cars, and see nothing wrong with demonstrating a bit of school spirit.

    Place names are okay too although like anything else it can be overdone and does indeed become “loud.”

    On the other hand I don’t like bumper stickers, because I don’t appreciate being lectured to and find the moral preening to be obnoxious.

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  5. As long as it isn't "my child was whatever of the week".

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  6. I have no issues with stickers or decals as long as they aren’t too edgy — think of it as monogramming for the car but instead of initials, one applies a school emblem or euro sticker for their favorite destination. Once you start stating an opinion, brag about accomplishments, or shock for shock's sake, it becomes tacky. Also, I would recommend one use magnets instead of stickers where possible if resale value of the vehicle matters.

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  7. Gauche, especially when trying to seek status or foist your political views.

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  8. I have a fox sticker, because I wrote a book about a fox. And I just ordered a Nova Scotia oval place sticker since that's where we have a second place. I also have a male hula dancer on my dashboard. I'm sure people think they are awful, but I love them!

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  9. I appreciate the reader's question because I struggle with the idea of stickers and tend to shy away from what can be perceived as outwardly boastful, i.e. "My Kid is an Honor Student". As far as etiquette is concerned, there are no written rules about this subject. A quote that may be helpful was given to us by Emily Post, "Rules of etiquette are nothing more than sign-posts by which we are guided to the goal of good taste." I think that says it in a nutshell - consider whether it's in good taste. If you place a university sticker on your rear window for the sake of school pride, keep in mind that not everyone may see it that way. I believe those are judgement calls according a person's comfort level. As for all other types of stickers, besides the heritage stickers that James B mentions, I group them with vanity license plates; the only advantage to those signs is that it takes the guess work out of knowing another's mindset.

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    1. An advantage of vanity plates is that it gives you pause about being 'rude on the road'. Others will remember who you are, especially in a small town.

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  10. I'm all for a sticker or two. Somehow I feel it takes the preciousness away from the automobile, which is a good thing. Especially on a family car! In defense of parents with top tier college or university stickers on their car; I don't think it is ever wrong to be proud of your children and their accomplishments. I believe in making your statement as an individual, and not worrying so much on how someone else may perceive the statement.

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  11. They are a dead giveaway that you are bourgeois (see Paul Fussel's book "Class"). I put quite a few on my car.

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    1. You don't realize how much effort it took for me to achieve even that much class, if in fact I ever did.

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    2. "He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night."

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    3. "They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."

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  12. My Range Rover Sport has no stickers . Private school banners are the most pompous , yet they're quite commonplace around here . Each to their own .............

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  13. I normally never put bumper stickers on my cars, but the wind caught the back door on my RAV4 and left me w/ a couple of small dents. Instead of going to the body shop, decided to cover them. At the time had just discovered I'm a Mayflower descendant and thought, when was the last time I saw a M/F bumper sticker? Never. The other sticker just says family historian.

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  14. Paul Fussel also says this is a very American phenomenon -- he never saw a car in Europe proclaiming "Christ Church - Oxford" or "Université de Paris".

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  15. The window stickers are a depressing reminder that many of our colleges and universities have morphed from their original intent to challenge young people and train them to think independently into a type of corporate entity, with relentless branding, public relations, and an overweening emphasis on fund raising (often to build monuments to wealthy, living alumni). A favorite past time among students at Purdue University was to cut out the letters on one of these stickers and rearrange them on the back window of a car, spelling "Undue Purversity".

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    1. ^ You are right about what's going on in today's colleges and universities but the window stickers were already a custom by the time I went to college in 1977. Lighten up, people!

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    2. While I am very proud that both my children graduated from a local university named after an ancestor (through their mother--not me), I am mildly irritated that they renamed their arena after a local bank. I think the university still owns the arena but it is managed by a private outside firm.

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    3. Is it George Mason? Selling the naming rights seems to be a popular way to raise money.

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    4. Yes, George Mason. It's a good school, though. And nobody owes a penny from having gone there. My son-in-law is going to Shepherd in Shepherdstown. It does not yet have an area for branding.

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    5. We are very fortunate to live in a state that has so many good state colleges and universities.

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    6. There's one off every exit on the interstate, as they say. The interesting thing is that every one is as different as can be. Even the curriculums are different, as if they all started from scratch.

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  16. I have had a sticker for my university (UC Berkeley) on my car for years. I am ridiculously proud of being a Cal grad. Be true to your school! Go Bears! Guess I am bourgeois and silly!

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    1. They had a litle party down in Newport. There was Harry, there was Mary, there was Grace.

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  17. Some stickers are necessary: If you want to be able to park your car in the club/campus/work parking lot, and not rack up fees to get your car out of the impound, it's worth having on the window... Small stickers, generally rear window driver's side so there is no blind spot. Any high school/prep school/college/university stickers that are on cars driven by parents of children who have matriculated, or those who have matriculated themselves, is game. Anything else is pretense because it can not be backed up by the individual's hard work and achievement. It is the sign of a right of passage and pride that someone has worked darned hard.... prime example is the top photo.

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  18. To the original question, "What do people think?" This person says wear those brands with the logos sitting right up front, put those stickers on your car, who the heck cares what others think? I don't wear logos and I don't display decals because I don't like it for me. It may take a long time to come to these terms, but here's the deal: do it because it's an expression of YOU.

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  19. I have a decal from my church and a pink Vineyard Vines whale...only because I like whales. I hate the stickers of the stick families. To me they are stupid. The local police advise against putting the sports stickers with the child's name and number. There is 3 pieces of information that can be used by a predator.

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  20. College decals, yes. Stick figure families, no. Euro-oval vacation spot stickers, please no.

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  21. Pretentious. I have zero stickers on any of my cars.

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  22. We are not sticker people, however we did have a SUV that outlasted being given to the daughter at college. When it was exchanged for a newer vehicle, the SUV returned covered with stickers on the rear door to adhere peeling paint and cover a driving mistake! One day I finally noticed that a stranger had added another sticker to the mess! We finally ended up giving the SUV to a neighboring farmer - stickers and all.

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  23. Just my work car park permit in the windscreen and a very subtle Hesketh Racing teddy bear sticker on the boot lid.

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  24. To each his own, I suppose. I don't care for any of them, for me, no matter what my accomplishments. But that's just me. I personally dislike the old Baby on Board signs, not sure why. They just irritate me. They're not really a bumper sticker though. I would rather have a good conversation with someone to find out who they are, i.e., your politics, your accomplishments, your kids, what have you, than spend time reading someone's decals while I drive behind them.

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    1. I don't think the 'Baby on Board' signs are used as a sign of accomplishment, more a safety measure for if you were involved in a crash to alert the emergency services arriving on the scene.

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    2. Perhaps you're right, Mad Dog.

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    3. For the most part those "Baby on Board" stickers would have been better pasted on the dashboard. Get off the phone, mom, and stay in your lane.

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  25. I look at those cars that have 3 and 4 college decals on the rear window and I think my goodness I'm glad I don't have their tuition bills.

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    1. Yes! I'm very proud of the academic accomplishments of my children and their spouses, but if I were to sport window stickers for every college and graduate school they attended (whose could leave out?) it would look like I was made of gold given the total tuitions involved.

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  26. I think the school decals were trendy in the 90s. Not so much anymore.

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  27. The best one I ever saw was a beautiful Gothic presentation of "Rikers Island". And yes, it was in NYC.

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  28. Aside from my workplace parking permit and oil change reminder, I have 3 window stickers and 2 bumper stickers. It's not overdone, and it's a nice way to personalize my car. But I don't think I'd ever go over that amount. And as I plan to drive it into the ground, I don't really care about the resale value.

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  29. Worrying about social acceptance is a sign of middle class (Paul Fussell).

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  30. For years, I lived without visible logos of any sort. With one exception, I do have a W on the back pocket of my blue jeans. I'm 47 and I remember the time before branding and shopping was simpler. Simple because quality was easy to find. In those days it was LLBean, Pendleton, Brooks Brothers and Wrangler. Now Logos are easy to find but not quality because only Wrangler and Pendleton have remained as they were. Car stickers are just another logo that may or may not bespeak a quality education. Are there not Harvard grads working low wage service jobs with mountains of student loans and little hope ... ?

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  31. Down here in DC, the rule is "5 or more" and you know the car is driven by a fruitcake.

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    1. Fordham, UPenn, Mar al Lago, the Tower, and the parking lot at 1600........ Yup, that's five. He qualifies as a fruitcake.

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  32. The two best bumper stickers I ever saw were on the same pickup truck, "Gun Tot'n Vermonter" and "This Vehicle Stops at All Bars". The combination, however, did not instill confidence in the driver. MGC

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    1. MGC You are a joy--am happy Muffy re-opened comments so I can again read your pithy humorous stories. Thanks for the laugh.

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  33. Sibling and I added our two Ivy stickers to the rear window of dad's rusty old pickup. No Volvos in our family...

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  34. I personally dislike the ones that are meant to be "humorous" (and often are not), as well as those that are caricatures of the family that ride in the car.

    We have three. National Trust and English Heritage (essential for free parking on visits, and a subtle indicator of what really matters) and my only political opinion piece "Support British Farmers".

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  35. One small decal in the lower left and lower right corner of the rear window seems about right...anything more seems somewhat "showy"

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  36. The one that said 'Your College Sucks' made me laugh.

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  37. An excellent question. I have a college name across the back window of my Forester, a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on the back bumper and a small logo at the rear of each of my back side windows (a Maine moose and a Sierra club hiker). Oh, and a Saltire on the front license plate area. Having just one small sticker on each side on my car really does help me when I'm trying to find my car in a crowded parking lot! But you don't want to overdo it. If you have a message to convey with a sticker, the more stickers you have, the less attention any one of them will get.

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  38. I think a one or two are fine. I especially like bumper stickers that address various social and political issues. Speaking up for the oppressed, the environment and for animals is always a good thing in my book.

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  39. Muffy and Community: frankly, they are remarkably cheap and nouveau. Would you put a sticker on your house? Why then on your car?

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  40. I have one with the name of my very prominent church. Everytime I'm tempted to 'flip the bird' at a fellow driver, I pause. Sometimes though . . .

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  41. I did an informal and very unscientific survey of stickers and decals on cars last night on the way home. These are the results:

    The vast majority of cars and trucks had none whatsoever. I imagine that means the owners are either timid or prim. Or perhaps they just don't like sticking things on their cars.

    Of those that had stickers of some kind, most were athletically oriented and most of those had something to do with local sports organizations, like the "Braddock Road Youth Club." Following that were college and pro-sports and a sprinkling of those little marathon ovals (26.2, 13.1, etc.).

    There were still a few political stickers but not as many as I expected to see. There were other stickers, too, most of which I wasn't able to decipher from not being close enough. Although I have seen mean and vulgar stickers aplenty, I saw none last night. But two-thirds of the cars were going the other direction, so I missed seeing many. Once in a great while I'll see a vehicle with a huge selection of stickers apparently carefully selected to irritate and offend everyone else. It's really hard to look the other way when you see such a display. On the other hand, I've seen a number of clever vanity places over the years, some of which make me smile. The best one was on a Honda Odyssey. The plate read "ILIAD."

    Or did it say "HOMER?"

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  42. I kind of liked the sticker on an old pick-up truck that said "RIP Popcorn Sutton". He was quite the moonshiner.

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  43. I don't have stickers on my car but enjoy seeing what other people put on their cars. About 5 years ago an old model mint green station wagon passed me on the highway. It was driven by a woman with what looked like a beehive hairdo. As if this was not startling enough, the bumper sticker read, "All men are idiots and I married their king." Eeek!

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  44. Well I surreptitiously put one on my wife's car that said "I haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister." Does that count?

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  45. We avoid all and any sort of stickers/decals on our car/truck because with the insane downward spiral of society these days, having something as innocent as a college sticker in your window is a sure way to get your tires slashed. Sad but true. --Holly in PA

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  46. My Volvo wagon's adornments: yacht club burgee on the tailgate, dump permit in a corner of the windshield, and a "Prancing Moose" sticker covering the grill badge. Less is more.

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  47. I have only two. And the reason being my car is a silver color. And given the fact that about 75% of the cars in my grocery store parking lot are silver, that keeps me from trying to unlock the door to someone else who has the same silver hued car.

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  48. When I was in high school, we had stickers like this on the back window of my parents' Buick station wagon. None of our vehicles today sport any college stickers, either of our alma mater or the university our son attends. one of the cars does have a red sox sticker though.

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    1. If there were still Buick station wagons, you'd probably still have stickers.

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  49. It is utterly inconceivable (event to me) that not one comment references the ONLY permitted sticker in Salt Water New England: the ubiquitous Nantucket Beach Permit. Now, opposed to one comment above, more is more in this case. One receives copious style points over a vast swath of New England, as well as foreign countries such as New Jersey and Delaware,when the entire rear window or bumper (or both!) is adorned with these patches. They say so much: "I own a 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser with only 73 miles; I have a house in Nantucket (you don't); I go places you can't; I retired from a hedge fund in Boston at age 37". The only set of stickers which remotely achieves the same degree of status would be "WILLIAMS" in the middle of your Range Rover's rear window and then a list of other colleges to which you child was admitted in a long list to the right under the heading "Also Admitted To". Just sayin'. Dear Muffmeister, I'm back.

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  50. For a high school social studies project about human behavior my daughter observed cars parking at our local grocery store (a chain). Drivers that parked illegally (in the fire lane in front of the store, across pedestrian walkways, in handicapped slots) more often showed stickers for nearby gated communities than not. She interviewed willing drivers as they exited the store. Those who parked illegally said they were 'in a hurry'. The amount of time they spent in the store didn't vary significantly from those who parked nearby but legally. Entitlement at work.

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  51. I have two stickers on my car. One for Boneyard Boats which is a "clearinghouse" for old antique boats in need of rescue--a worthy cause, and a sticker for my historic town in rural GA. Both help me find my nondescript silver Accord in parking lots.

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  52. I have never been a logo/sticker person, and those stick figure family window decals look ridiculous to me. The two bumper stickers I've seen that amused me were: "My horse bucked off your honor student" and "My other car is a broom."

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