Your Bumper Sticker Made Me Do It

While preparing to turn right with the green light the other evening at a fairly busy intersection, I noticed another car coming from the opposite direction at a rapid speed. Realizing the driver was not slowing up and turning left into my path, I stopped and waited for her to go by. As the car accelerated away, I noticed the license plate to be a Tennessee vanity tag supporting pro-life. The tag is sold in support to help pregnant women find abortion alternatives and to save the lives of unborn children. A great cause to be involved in, but as the lady sped away from the scene totally unaware of how close she came to harming herself, as well as my grandchildren’s grandfather, I thought about the ironic circumstance of that moment. She had spent over $100 for a cause to save unborn lives, but in the turn of a steering wheel could have easily taken her own life and mine if I had not been aware of her actions and doing some defensive driving of my own.

I’m amused daily on the highways of the signs we place on our vehicles to advertise our feelings, but our driving habits may totally erase the thoughts we attempt to convey. You’ve all seen the bumper stickers that request you to honk your horn if you love Jesus. So many times I’ve seen people do as requested and the person with the sticker gets all bent out of shape if you blow your horn at them. Often they go way beyond being Jesus-like, making you want a bumper sticker that reads, “Your bumper sticker made me do it!”

It is so easy to forget our own “put on public status symbols” that sooner or later it will make all of us prime suspects for becoming consumers of Corvus brachyrhynchos.  Each of us has had the opportunity at some time in our lives to eat a little crow, which is Corvus brachyrhynchos, known by most of us everyday folks. Of course, I don’t literally mean eating a small black bird or indulging myself in wild fowl. Instead, I am referring to the old saying we often use, “eating crow,” whenever we have to take back some words or something we may have said that contradicts our actual actions at the current time.”‚ I have eaten my limit of “contradiction crow” and probably will consume even larger quantities in the future if I’m allowed to open my mouth, which I am in the habit of doing.

Over the past 28 years and some 1,400 columns of “Read All About It,” I have made numerous observations and statements that often cause me to taste the proverbial black bird. That’s the problem with us writers. People who make statements and comments verbally are often forgotten and free to go on making their profane comments of unsolicited words of wisdom. However, writers put their thoughts down in hard copy, which removes all doubt on where they stand or what they think. Often, I have to go back and look at columns I had written years ago to see if I really said what someone claims I said. The best advice I’ve been given in that matter is to avoid lying so you don’t have to remember what you said.

A few years back, I wrote a column on cell phones and how their ability to disturb is becoming a major problem. I took to task those individuals who allow them to ring during funerals, church services, and other important gatherings where the rings of a cell phone can become quite disruptive. In fact, cell phones no longer just ring, they sing, play tunes and even call out the name of the owner to answer their phone. But, I too have forgotten to quiet my mobile communication device leading to being the subject of stares and down right embarrassment for my family. I still say the cell phone is becoming a nuisance at times and its proper use in public is becoming a problem, but I have dined on a good serving of crow because of my words against cell phones and others. Crow does not taste that good, but it is one delicacy that we all seem to continue to eat quite often. I’m just glad it is not fattening.

The best advice when it comes to our urges to use our vehicles as billboards may be don’t do it. I will never forget what one elder state representative told me many years ago why he never put the state issued House tags on his car denoting him as a state representative. He said, “Putting those tags is like riding a spotted horse into town. Wherever you park or go they know it’s you and the only parking space left may not be in front of the church.”  


– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at