Thursday, September 27, 2012

Please Make It Stop: Epitaphs On Car Windshields

Have you ever heard anyone say, "I hope that when I die, someone writes my epitaph on the rear window of a late 80's Cutlass with two missing plastic hubcaps and drives it around town for the next seven years, so folks can read it at intersections and ponder the futility of life."?  Have you ever heard a new husband promise his wife that were she to precede him to the great beyond, he'd be so distraught he'd have no choice but to partially obscure his rear window in ivory Times New Roman, and totally reduce the effectiveness of the defogger to, like, 85 per cent?

Neither have I.  Yet this disturbing trend has apparently taken root, and the number of rust bucket tombstones I see on the daily commute is growing.

Yes, I know we lose loved ones as we move through life, and being reminded that there are those who will miss us when our own time comes, can be a comfort.  But what is the purpose of parading this sentiment among people who never knew the deceased?  Are drivers supposed to cross themselves, or turn their vehicles eastward in homage to the sanctity of your rear window?  Does the Good Lord bless your commute out of deference to your rolling shrine?  Will onlookers be inspired to google the dearly departed and therefore be granted some of their parting wisdom? Is the hope that the Pope-mobile rolls past on the interstate one day, your touching remembrance inspiring the Holy Father to secretly canonize your loved one from the fast lane? Or maybe your aims are simpler...maybe the guy at the Burger King drive-through slips an extra apple pie in the bag and as you take it, clasps your hand with just that right amount of extra familiarity, saying, "Just take it...I knew Jason...I totally feel your pain, man."

Some of these are messages to the departed, saying "We miss you," as if the angels are smiling down on the bubbly purple window tint, and the heavens boom along with that ported subwoofer to the missives of Tupac.

I guess different strokes for different folks, right?  But are people really so different that what ranks for me one step above going to the convenience store for rolling papers in a bath robe, or loud farting in church, could mean so much to so many others?

I blame blogs.  And Twitter.  And Facebook.  In this world of constant fishing for feedback, of putting your "self" out there in the form of bytes in the ether, and expecting instant gratification in likes and +1's and badges, our approximation of eternity has been reduced from loving messages carved into granite, to decals on a glass/plastic hybrid surface. People in the age of Twitter, used to receiving instant kudos for photographic evidence of their adventures in fast food or their choice in clothes simply can't believe a thing can affect them so deeply, yet there remain those who simply don't need to know and can't care.  Yes, the hypocrisy is strong in this one, I have 5 posts on my blog, 5 "like"s, and they're all mine. But at least I know the difference between having an opinion on Batman no one cares about, and symbolically showering disinterested drivers with my salty tears as they trudge to work.

I'd be horrified to find out someone had planned a rolling eulogy for me, with the intent of advertising my death to the masses day after day as if life couldn't just, you know, roll on.  If this happens to me, and there is an afterlife, and any way at all that my soul can claw its way back across the ethereal plane to once again produce cause and effect in the land of the living, I am totally going to foul those spark plugs with smokey sulfur, clog that air filter with my ectoplasmic waste, and spook a flock of migrating geese to let go right over it.

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