I've been tasked to drive my son around since he was rear-ended a few weeks ago and his car is now history...something that has good and bad points. Bad being I have to drive my son around since his car is now history; good being that it gives me the opportunity to talk to him some more...my captive audience, so to speak. That has nothing to do really with this blog...but it was actually the impetus behind it...I was actually behind it when I said "enough is enough in this town...I'm going to write a blog about it...I have the power...I have the three people who read this...I owe it to all of mankind". Well, I didn't exactly say all of that...which part I said is what they commonly refer to in the "business" as "a trade secret". That fact that I'm not actually "in" the business is of no consequence to this story...sometimes I just like to whine about it all...and technically YOU are my captive audience at this moment.
I used to live in Jersey (that's New Jersey to those of you who aren't FROM there) until I was 26...I grew up driving in Jersey...and Pennsylvania once in a while. I can honestly say that in my "driving" years there I don't ever recall seeing anyone without a license tag (of which we had both front and back plates)...even the "Temporary Tags" were very few and far between. We also had state Motor Vehicle Inspections once a year...there's nothing more comforting than waiting in a line halfway to the shore only to fail your inspection...which meant you had 30 days to come back...wait in line all over again...and hopefully not fail...again. Now I'm not at all insinuating that Jersey was so much better than anywhere...sure there were morons who had their mufflers strapped onto the underside of their cars with a length of rope...I had witnessed people having to push their cars out of the inspection line due to various reasons...and I heard stories of people knocking their driver's side window out because as long as you didn't have one...you wouldn't get cited for not being able to roll it down and back up again. For the benefit of those of you who don't know...Alabama has no yearly vehicle inspection...their inspection consists of someone coming out of the Motor Vehicle Bureau when you first get tags for your car...and visually verifying it's the vehicle...and that the windshield wipers and horn works. A godsend really if you've grown up in Jersey...and failed as many inspections as I have.
But the thing I cannot understand in this town is how so many people...and I saw it again today driving to the mall to pick up my son...in fact I made a concerted effort to look at each passing car after I jotted down the mental note to myself to use this idea as a blog...have no license plates on their vehicles. This fact apparently goes totally unnoticed to the Montgomery police...maybe it's okay to drive around without plates...I never looked it up, altho I would figure the purpose of HAVING plates to begin with would negate that idea totally. I do know that in Jersey they'd stop you in heartbeat (or at least they used to) if anything was amiss with your plates...and again we had a whopping two of them to keep up with. I was stopped once...well, three times actually...driving directly home...after someone had swiped my rear plate from a shopping mall...so I know they paid attention. How I wish they gave me the power to pull people over and fine them for this infraction...I would have made $301,260 for Montgomery County alone. This year alone...and it's only August.
I, as the mindful, watchful eye of license tags since my arrival to this state 15 years ago, like to think I was wholeheartedly instrumental in getting Alabama State University's tag changed to something that the human eye could read. I don't know how many of you remember, but their tag used to have gold letters/numbers with what looked to be black scratch marks superimposed over the whole tag. Even when you were 10 feet behind this plate you couldn't make out half the alpha-numerics...certainly speeding away at the scene of a crime you couldn't get even one. I took it upon myself to write Alabama's "license tag" bureau addressing this fact and they were nice enough to write me back stating that they were happy to hear from me and letters such as mine were the ammunition which was instrumental in their taking a more in-depth look into the matter which ultimately resulted in the plates being redesigned. Chalk one up for being able to actually help make a change in this world...even if it was only a tiny one.
I also feel compelled to point out a major design fault with most license plate holders...you know, the ones that have your college, a saying, etc., which "picture-frame" your tags...why is it that most seem to crop the "state" right off? I don't know how many of you have taken a look lately...and I think I've mentioned it before in an earlier blog...but I believe Alabama is the state with the most differently designed tags out there (also look at the "License Plate Information" link at the top...then to "Distinctive Plates" menu). A whole slew of tags in fact that you'd never be able to identify again at a crime scene. "What state was it, ma'am?" "Uh...I don't know...I think it had an apple or a spaceship on it...I'm pretty sure it was blue or green." Used to be, long ago...that you knew what a Jersey tag looked like, what a Pennsylvania tag looked like, etc. without having to second guess yourself. I can still spot those...and the very boring blue on white of Virginia (whose DMV site sports the fact you can now get 180 different specialized plates)...but Alabama?? I just saw one today I had never seen before and I make a habit of looking at plates...then to make it even more difficult, they had that "tinted window" convex license tag covering obscuring the whole plate. Again, good luck making a tag ID as they are speeding away from you.
I know that Alabama is a lot more trusting of people than we ever were in Jersey...where we are not only born a skeptic...but we also marry it with cynicism, but you can't tell me that crime doesn't happen in this state or town...Montgomery already has had 18 homicides alone this year; Birmingham, 60. Most I know probably weren't driving cars when they occurred...but you have to ask yourself who would drive a car without tags constantly...and why? I don't think asking for a little step up on the vigiliance of non-plated cars is too much to ask...in fact it just might be the first step in stopping Montgomery's 20th...or 21st...or...
A Bit About Me
- Mariann Simms
- Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".