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After Work: A License To Express Yourself

…If I chose to turn in my standard issue plates which feature Florida oranges, I could proclaim my love for manatees. Or bigmouth bass. There are about 60,000 Floridians driving around with those plates. And that’s in comparison with 20,000 drivers sporting golf-themed plates…

Dona Gibbs highlights the astonishing variety and individuality of vehicle license plates in the USA. But there is one plate which would raise many a million eyebrows, and prompt an abudance of chuckles, if it was displayed in Britain.

For lots more of Dona’s gloriously individualistic words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

“I don’t understand it. From the time I picked up my new car, people have been honking at me. Cutting me off for no reason. Shaking their fists. I don’t get it,” our friend shook his head woefully.

Now it couldn’t have been the car that was getting people so riled. There were plenty of other gleaming wonders of prestige British automotive engineering cruising the streets of Palm Beach.

And it couldn’t have been his driving. There are plenty of other octogenarians out there, peering over the tops of steering wheels. As a driver, you learn to give them plenty of time and space for their reflexes to kick in at every stop sign and corner.

The cause of the wrath must lie elsewhere.

It became clear when the valet brought the car around.

It must be the license plate. As cheerful and colorful as it was, it contained a message. It probably seemed blatantly political to fellow sharers-of-the-road, but our friend, the new car owner, didn’t recognize these overtones.

The consensus was,” George, you gotta get a new plate.”

“But I like the colors.” he sputtered.

Many, many states have an array of licenses plates for car owners to choose from. But Florida seems to have more than most.

You can express your love of your Alma Mater, proclaim yourself the proud owner of a Harley Davidson, state your affiliation in any number of fraternal organizations and support research in any number of diseases. The extra fees the motorists pay go to the organizations the plates celebrate.

Go on-line for any state and you’ll see for yourself.

The choice is wonderful. A celebration of The First Amendment, not that most plates are in any way controversial.

Here are just a few of my favorites. If I chose to turn in my standard issue plates which features Florida oranges, I could proclaim my love for manatees. Or bigmouth bass. There are about 60,000 Floridians driving around with those plates. And that’s in comparison with 20,000 drivers sporting golf-themed plates.

Now you might think hockey is as rare as panthers now are in Florida. Maybe so, but those supporters of the Panthers, Florida’s professional hockey team, can flaunt their loyalty.

If I were going to fork over the extra bucks for a special Florida plate, I’d go for the state flower plate. It features coreopsis, bright yellow flowers, in colorful profusion. And there’s not a whiff of controversy about it. The extra fee supports the planting and protection of wildflowers.

My fingers wandered over to other state motor vehicle websites.

I picked out my favorite plate in New York. Yes, I’d definitely go with the blue bird.

It’s no surprise there are some regional differences. Both North and South Carolina have plates for the NSACAR crowd. Fans aren’t limited to a generic NASCAR plate. They can even select their favorite drivers. From that long list, I guess I’d go with the Richard Petty historical plate. His is the only name I recognized.

Surprising to me was that California didn’t have anything of the quirky selection I was expecting. Ohio had more choices than I would have thought. And I never knew Toledo had a lighthouse.

In New Hampshire, the state slogan, first proclaimed by an American Revolutionary patriot is, “Live free or die”. While there are other selections, the standard issue plate would be enough of a statement for me.

So far my all time plate pick would be either the North or South Carolina plate that celebrates The Shag. Please UK readers don’t avert your eyes. The Shag in American Southern terms is a dance of fancy footwork. There is a even South Carolina state proclamation citing it as The Official State Dance,

The only movement of The Shag is below the knees. No hips are engaged. Smoothness is prized in the execution. It originated on beachfront patios, decks and bars and is danced to Beach Music—an innocent paean to sun, sand and a tall cold one.

That’s my kind of license plate. Although in the UK, it would get me run off the road.

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