Irma Cook, State DMV Employee #4227, was responsible for license plate renewals and registration for Deerton and greater Tecumseh County. Ordinarily, hers was a sedate job, and that was the way she liked it. Irma had ossified into a comfortable living and had only 5 years until she retired on a generous government pension, which she planned to spend as far away from snowy rural Michigan as she could.

But that had been before the Great License Plate Switch of 2007. The dumbass governor had decided that the most important problem facing Michigan wasn’t Detroit rotting from the inside or the explosion of meth labs (both figuratively and literally) in the state or the fact that the Mitten hadn’t created a new job since 1976. No, license plates were a far more pressing (and taxable!) issue. The beautiful “Lake Superior Blue” plates, with their shining white letters on an azure background, had been around since 1982 and had–in Irma’s opinion–been a welcome change from the cluttered and generic plates issues by other states. You could always pick a Michigan plate out of a crowd without even reading it.

No more. Decreeing that it was imperative to have the state’s URL on the places (michigan.gov, which didn’t exactly take a UM med school degree to figure out), said dumbass governor had required Michiganders to trade in their Lake Superior Blue for Boring White With A URL On It. For a fee, of course, that would add a few million bucks to the tattered mitten’s depleted coffers. So everyone, even if they liked their old plate, had to buy a new one with new numbers on it.

That didn’t bother Irma as much as having to listen to the complaints.

“My new license plate says YAY 911! My car’s already been keyed three times!”

“Do you know how many lewd noted I’ve gotten stuck on my windshield since they gave me 6AY 53X?”

Irma gruffly sent most of the petitioners away to full out Form 1080-P to get a new plate at full price. The person with “A55 RGY” took a little more convincing.

“It’s the Traverse City cherry in the middle of the plate,” the petitioner said. “It looks like an O.”

“Oh,” Irma said. “Form 1080-P.”

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“So this guy finally sweeps by me on the highway–you know, the really angry way you pass people by slamming the gas and cutting in front of them by a comfortable margin of about six nanometers–and I saw that he had a custom license plate. This raging asshole, who’d been chewing at my asshole for the last twenty miles of blacktop, was apparently “2HOT4U.” Mickey paused for effect. “Have you ever known someone who had a custom license plate who wasn’t a raging asshole? They’re right up there with tramp stamps and missing teeth.”

The audience roared with laughter and clapped. Ellie Connaught (ALOHA2U) found that her mirth had evaporated somewhat.

“The best part is that they never have enough letters to spell out what they desperately want to be plastered on their car’s ass,” Mickey continued. “I see these people pass me and they’ve got some cute little word or phrase that’s missing all its vowels, and I gotta wonder: are they a genuine asshole, did they get lucky at the DMV, or maybe Prisoner #374298 has a sense of humor to go with his third-grade education?”

Peter Stromburg (ELVSKNG) shifted uneasily in his seat, the sequins on his Graceland T-shirt sparkling in the reflected stage light.

“Even when they can spell, it’s usually something passive-aggressive like BACK OFF,” Mickey said, gesticulating wildly. “How effective is that, really? When I’m tailgating the shit out of someone for doing, I dunno, 37 in a 70, am I supposed to see that plate and go ‘oh shit, I better back off cuz this grandpa who can barely see over the wheel said so? In the medium of license plate?”

Allie Vandenburg (NONONO) bit her lip, stonefaced.

“And God help you if you’re an asshole from one of those states that makes you jam spaces in your license plate. You try and be all clever and then find out that due to state statute #877b, your SEXWMAN becomes SEX W MAN.”

Near the back, Albert Kesselbrecht (KNG O FROAD) leaned over and whispered at his wife Agnes (CUT A SABUG) “He’s not really as funny in person, you know?”

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