Read My Ass

It used to be said that, “Vanity, thy name is woman.” but, nowadays, when it comes to specialty licence plates, “Vanity, thy name is Legion!”  Vanity plates are everywhere; everything from obvious, easily understood letter/number combinations, to stuff that just has you shaking your head, wondering what he’s smoking, or where he parked the spaceship.

Many years ago, when the children were small, we owned a small Honda Civic station-wagon.  When I got steady, although not great-paying, employment at the shoe factory in 1983, Ontario offered custom plates.  At first only 6 spaces were allowed.  I splurged, and spent $100 for a set.  They read, surprisingly, “ARCHON.”  They’re a lot more expensive these days.  Someone told me they’d seen another pair, “just like yours”, which is impossible.  I finally located them.  Ed Arconovitch, who worked day shift at the same plant, got a set which read, “ARCON.”

I moved to the auto plant at a better salary, and the wife went back to work.  First we bought her brother’s 10-year-old Chevy Monte Carlo for her commute, then I felt I could afford a used motorcycle.  The Civic sat unused for 9/10 months a year, eating insurance, while I rode the bike, so I took my vanity plates off, and sold it.

When we traded up to a better car for the wife and kids, I tried to put my custom plates on it….and bureaucracy struck.  The car was in her name – but the plates were in mine.  We could transfer the car to my name – and pay a 15% tax on the book value.  I could sell her my custom plates!  Oh, no says the DMV, the plates must be surrendered and offered to people who have put in a request for that particular set.  Screw that!  I put them in a bag under my work bench, and the son can turn them in for a refund after I die.

After a couple of years’ gainful employment for both of us, the wife got her own set which read, ”3 TEASE.”  It might mean, “Terrible Tori the Terror,” from her childhood, or it might mean, “Terribly Terrific Tori.”  It might just be the third time we’ve messed with your mind!

I knew, when I went to get my plates, that the DMV could be a little suspicious, and had my story of, Why Archon? carefully rehearsed.  Sure enough, the middle-aged matron wanted to know all about it, to prevent evil from entering our streets.  Even as I was drawing breath to defend my unique personal expression, the much-younger male manager piped up, “That’s from the original Star Trek episode, Return of the Archons.”  I’d been hauling the handle around for 15 years before that episode was broadcast but, if it gets me my plates with no hassle, “Yeah!  That’s right!”

My neighbor, Tom, owned a Buick 88, and applied for TOMS 88.  Ontario plates were three letters and three numbers, like ABC 123, and you couldn’t get those combinations.  The DMV clerk told him that the O of TOMS was a zero; therefore he couldn’t have his choice.  I told him to appeal, but he didn’t want to fight city hall.

There are two kinds of bureaucrats; the one will find a rule to deny whatever you request; the other will dig through the rulebook to find you the exception you need.  Sadly, the first type outnumber the second, a hundred to one ~ or maybe a thousand to one.  In an ongoing campaign to prove their importance and power, Ontario DMV clerks continue to deny thousands of applications.  Custom plates are now up from six spaces, to eight.

Custom plates may not be obscene, derogatory or racist.  They may not refer to drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, criminal activity, law enforcement, public figures, politics or religion.  Nearly a third of the 3315 rejected applications in the last three years, have been refused on the criterion of “clarity and readability.”

If I’m a nihilist, who just wants a random collection of letters and numbers which no-one else has, I don’t see how or why it’s any of the government’s business.  The government, being the government, makes it their business.  Everything is forbidden, unless they specifically allow it.  This rather nebulous category has eliminated such seemingly clear and readable requests as HO5ER, A.BATMAN, 2THF4IRY, and ST4RG4ZER.

Predictably, the second and third most-censored categories were plates that referred to religion and sex.  DMONSEED and LUC1F3R were deemed too evil.  NIHILIST and AGNOSTIC were too honest, and JAWS2GOD and APOKLPSE just too unthinkable.

No doubt drug dealers were disappointed when plates such as GOTSPEED, B.JUICED, ILOVCOKE, and SPD4WEED were rejected.  Government clerks will seize any opportunity to flex their bureaucratic muscle, even reversing previous decisions.

In 2007, United Church Rev. Joanne Sorrill became a political cause célèbre, after the Ministry refused to renew her, “REV JO” plate, because, it claimed, “rev” could encourage unsafe driving, and because Rev is an alcoholic cooler-type beverage.  I’m surprised it wasn’t rejected on the “No Religion” rule, but the clerk was probably a Christian.  It took a newspaper humiliation campaign before the Provincial Premier personally authorized the renewal.  He called the Ministry’s behavior, “laughable.”

The Ministry issued a statement, saying, “This is a difficult job, being done by sincere people, but it is an imperfect science.”  They went on to say that employees use resources such as Wikipedia and UrbanDictionary.

I’ve got mine, even if I don’t use them, and I see lots of others around.  A beautifully rebuilt 1947 Ford Business Coupe, at the downtown summer Cruise Night had a pair which read, B DRULN.  Do any of you have vanity plates?  How much did you pay?  Have you seen some amusing or confusing ones?

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28 thoughts on “Read My Ass

  1. BrainRants says:

    Not interested in vanity plates. I already pay enough in taxes they should come upon request only, for the price of a stamp. Our worst state here is Illinois, where 108.4% of the residents have vanity plates. If I got one in a moment of weakness, it would read, BEAT NAVY… or B34T N4VY… whatever.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Now that the techs say I’ve revived from the coma, I’d better get back to replying to comments, and making a few myself. Sorry folks! 😦
      How many states have you been posted in, to know about Jersey jug handles and that Illinois is the Egocenter of the empire? 😕
      I wonder if Erickson, the Chicago exile has an Ohio one? GAMR BY?

      Like

  2. I’m a nihilist and have a random set of numbers and letters that no other person on the planet has on their car. Yes, I’m that unique and individualistic…. so there!

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  3. 1jaded1 says:

    Rants is right. Illinois does have a high number of vanity plates. The plate itself is very boring. It is a picture of Abe Lincoln. I mean no disrespect to Abe, I don’t want him on the ass and front ends of my car.

    Back when I lived in Michigan, they had these “Great Lakes Splendor” plates. I had to give up my random ERC 123 plates for these when I bought my Civic.

    The GLS plates were beautiful, with a sunrise or sunset and the bridge. I was dreading the fact that I had to give it up for Abe. I paid 76$ extra for a “Route 66 – where the road begins” plate. Sounds strange, but it was money well spent. No special name though. What year was your Monte Carlo?

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Monte was an ’81, that we bought in ’91.
      Michigan has so many different “special” plates, even without the vanity version. Those Great Lakes Splendor ones are pretty.
      With the history and cachet of Route 66, I fully agree with spending $76 to get rid of top-hat Abe. 🙂

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  4. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Well, Archon, I guess I’m ashamed to say I have no idea what my license plate says? I’ve never memorized it! That’s pitiful isn’t it? The polar vortex did something bad to my car. I had anti-freeze in there, but the cold cracked some seal or some shit and it now spits ALL the oil out. My vanity plate would read: LIFESUCKS

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Poor baby! I’ve spoken sternly to Mr. Polar Vortex, and told him to stay north of 49. 😦
      We used to memorise our plate for ID when charging gasoline to a credit card. With the advent of debit cards, if wifey didn’t have a special one, I’d probably not know what ours was either.
      Check your emails. Answer to quarter question coming tomorrow. 😉

      Like

  5. Jim Wheeler says:

    Since Missouri charges only a $15 fee for vanity plates, I weakened a couple of years ago and found that USNA59 was available. I looked up and found there were only 11 in my class from Missouri, so my chances were pretty good of getting that one. (Who knows where they are now? I know the whereabouts of only one, and he was in Hawaii – last I heard, anyway.)

    Rants is more imaginative than I, otherwise I might have considered “Beat Army” for my plates. I’m glad I didn’t, however. That stuff is fine for the stadium, but I’ve gotten several friendly conversations from ground-pounders out of it, including one who waved me down and offered greetings through the windows as we sailed down the highway. I’ve also met some local USNA grads I hadn’t known were around.

    Having them does give me a little twinge of conscience, but I guess $15 worth of vanity isn’t too bad.

    Missouri’s restrictions are similar to Canada’s. Basically, the message can’t be offensive to anyone, and when you think about it, that’s pretty restrictive.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      $15 worth of vanity is just right. I know you’ve written about the us vs. them, competition thing, but the depth of the schisms still astounds me. Cooler heads prevail up here in our cooler clime. 🙂

      Like

  6. I’ve had no desire to own vanity plates, I think it is just a money grab by the government.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Gotta pay for E-health, Ornge, and relocated power plants somehow. The wife worries about (everything!) my driving. If I cut somebody off, they’ll use her easily remembered plate to find out where we live and home invade us. And yet she wanted her plates. 😕

      Like

  7. aFrankAngle says:

    No vanity plates for me because of I lack the interest. But if you are interested in what Ohio does, here’s the scoop. http://www.bmv.ohio.gov/sp_personalized.stm

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Am I just getting old, or do I need a bureaucracy-to-plain English translation? I’d wind up doing what one local guy did, just paint up a pair on cardboard. Now he’s in the slammer, making real ones. 😀

      Like

  8. aFrankAngle says:

    But this is one of the classics.

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  9. aFrankAngle says:

    But more of the story.

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  10. I don’t have vanity plates, but I did argue with our DMV clerk the last time I had to get plates for a car I bought from a relative. The plates I was handed started with “BMS” (little humor by the prisoners who make those plates?). I told the clerk I didn’t want them. She said I had no choice. I said just give me the next set. She said no. I suggested she take the person behind me and give them the BMS plates, so that I could get the next set, which I could see had something I could live with. The clerk said, “These are your plates. Either take them or not.” Well, obviously I couldn’t drive around in a car with no plates, so I’m still driving around with BMS on mine, having transferred them from the original car to each subsequent car. I am comforted, at least, that they are the blue-and-white NY plates and not the new yellow ones, which I hate.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Perhaps I’m not awake, or just Canadian, but I don’t see the significance of “BMS”, please clarify. PMS I understand. The neighbor’s father lives in Buffalo, and visits regularly, with those orange-y/yellow plates.

      While I seldom get a chance to visit your site, I’ve seen your comments here and there. I believe you’ve even stopped by here, a time or two. I’m aware that you’re not “sweet” when it’s not appropriate. Keep ranting! 😀

      Like

  11. benzeknees says:

    I would never give the govt. any extra money for vanity plates – I’m not that vain!

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    • Archon's Den says:

      The rear 3TEASE fell off on highway 401, on a trip to the wife’s Toronto doctor. We had to make a police report, lest someone use it on a toll road, and then had to pay $51 to have another made and delivered. 😦

      Like

  12. […] almost 30 years, my ARCHON vanity plates, first acquired here, are back on the road.  The wife and I bought our last car.  It’s actually a rice-burning, Kia […]

    Like

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