There are no bumper stickers here and I just noticed

I have now passed my expativersary and thus have lived here more than three years. I do not own a car and I walk to work, to the gym, to the store, anyplace I need to go within my town. But somehow it had completely escaped my notice that the cars in England aren’t likely to have bumper stickers whereas many cars in America do. I certainly noticed lots of bumper stickers on my drive down towards the beach and back in August. And many of them were political, religious, or both. It was interesting at the time because I had forgotten that aspect of American culture–the proudly displaying one’s views on abortion on the back of one’s vehicle. And it took several weeks back in the UK for it to dawn on me that I don’t remember ever having seen a bumper sticker here. Or car art of any sort. No University stickers in the rear window, none of those silhouettes of barbie-figured girls on the back of trucks. Certainly no “OBX” stickers, which were on most cars heading in that direction. So clearly this is just something that has not caught on in the UK, the sticky things must not be available for sale the way they are in the US, with the end result that I spend very little time in the UK reading someone’s unsolicited views about abortion while stuck in traffic. And I have absolutely no clue if your kid made the junior high honor roll.

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10 responses to “There are no bumper stickers here and I just noticed

  1. Bumper stickers came and went as a phase in the UK. They were always jokey rather than personal, eg “my other car is a porsche”.

    What is OBX?

    • OBX is the symbol for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I rent a beach house in the summer. In some areas of the eastern US, like Charlottesville, VA and surrounding areas, almost every car you see has an OBX sticker on it, sort of like “we belong to this vacation club” or something.

  2. Perhaps we Brits feel about bumper/fender stickers a bit like we feel about flag-flying? Too committal, too ‘in-yer-face’, too sloganesque?

    We do have rear-window stickers reasonably abundant, however, like the ‘Baby on board’ one, or the early-Christian fish symbol. I hate both, but particularly the latter: it’s as if the owner were saying, “I’m a devout Christian, and I wish you to acknowledge this fact you possible unbeliever driving behind me!” Seems to me to be a lot like the Pharisee’s behaviour in Luke 18:11.

  3. Very interesting observation. I wonder if it might be related to the fact that we can seem like annoying, self-centered loud mouths when compared to the Brits?

    On the 168 towards central London this morning, I found myself highly annoyed by another American chatting loudly on her mobile while all other passengers kept quiet. She didn’t seem to mind that a) she was the only person talking in an otherwise silent crowd and, b) that everyone else was exposed to the details of her private conversation.

  4. But that’s kind of what makes the USA what it is. I used to be embarrassed by how in yer face we are – but now, I love it. It just makes us more…what’s the word…colorful (albeit sometimes annoying).
    And the Brits can’t say they aren’t known for being the loudest Europeans on holiday anywhere, now can they?

  5. > And the Brits can’t say they aren’t known for being the loudest Europeans on holiday anywhere, now can they?

    That’s certainly true! There are circumstances where the Brits fail to turn the volume down, and as Kate Fox in her book notes, holidays abroad are among them.

  6. Yes, we noticed that; although, we have seen a few jokey ones. I have to wonder if they might be Americans, though.

    The most common stickers are those displaying membership to something, like the National Trust or English Heritage.

    Stickers can be too personal and being an introvert, I don’t like telling the world everything about myself.

  7. > I don’t like telling the world everything about myself.

    But you just have! ;- 🙂

  8. > I would take a million low-key fish symbols over the blatant truly in your face anti-abortion stickers I kept seeing this summer.

    Is anti-abortionism stronger in the USA, would you say, NFAH?

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