SFM #159. Culture. Messages on cars

Star Ferry Musing #159.  Messages on cars

Written by Robert Wu for his family and friends
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I am always keeping my eyes open when I am on the road.  I watch the traffic and I pay attention to vehicles.  I see some interesting messages on cars.

This BMW motorcycle in Hong Kong was a fast response vehicle of the fire department.  It was well equipped with fire retardants and hoses.  This motorcycle could dodge traffic, get to vehicle fires quickly, and in high style.

This police bicycle in a small city in China was functional.  Most policemen in China did not carry firearms.  And their vehicles were correspondingly not threatening.

During a demonstration in New York City against the police killing of George Floyd, scores of policemen corralled the procession with their bicycles.  I found bicycles less intimidating than riot gears and night sticks.

During a tour of Kenya to see the animals, our tour van blew a tire early in the trip.  It was replaced with a spare tire.

Later in the same day, the replacement tire failed also.  Fortunately, the van had a second spare tire.  This passerby found the situation ridiculous, as we did.

Fortunately, the rest of our tour was uneventful.  Our trip was not as rigorous and hazardous as the ones taken by these Tibetan pilgrims and their loyal dog.

When we were in Vancouver, I saw this bus that was not in service.

As was the characteristic politeness of the Canadian people, this bus apologized.  Sorry.

The warning sign on this plumber’s truck was carried by the wind.

As US required license plates be displayed front and rear, this car had its front plate riveted to its hood.  This car was probably imported from another car market.

The Smart car for two was the cutest car on the road.  I found this Smart car stripped of its external panels and utterly exposed.  I felt the car needed to be covered with a loincloth.

Signs on cars often carried a message by its owner.  The owner of this car was obviously an atheist.  The Christian symbol of the fish was parodied as a male Darwin and a female Darwina which would mate and evolve.

I wonder if the owner of this Cadillac was aware that the Department of Motor Vehicles issued an insult to the car.

This customer license plate was an enigma.  I had no idea what “9×2” meant.  Was that the age of the young new owner?

The owner of this SUV warned others to beware that he/she is a “rude one”.  I heeded the warning and strived to stay away from the vehicle.

But I failed.  I met the rude one again.

The owner of this car licensed “Soaknwet” was either a lifeguard or a sauna attendant.  He/she was always soaking wet.

The proprietor of a farmer’s market stand reinforced his/her credibility with this “Organic” license.

This environmental activist was all in.  He/she drove a hybrid Prius named “Treehgr”, tree hugger.

The owner of this car wanted others to know his/her ethnicity.  It was identified as “Nisei”, 二世, or native-born Japanese American.

New York issued special license plates to foreign representatives in the US with diplomatic DPL license plates.  This car of the Taiwan representative had a special plate with TPE (Taipei) and the plum flower symbol.

I knew this Porsche belonged to a Cantonese person.  The license plate “Fydeeya” sounded like 快啲呀, meaning “hey, go faster”!

This red Covette could not be mistaken.  But just in case, the license plate told people it was a “Vettte”.

Similarly, this Tesla license plate told those who could not recognize it that it was a “Tesla S”.

This vintage Volkswagen was registered as a historical vehicle.  It might well have 500,000 miles on its odometer.

This tiny Honda Fit was named “Rocket”.  It was a pocket rocket.

This other subcompact car was more humble and realistic.  It was called “Mouse42”, Mouse For Two.

This Smart car was cute and it knew it.  It implored people to “hugmeee”, hug me!

This Smart car flaunted its attributes as a city car.  It was “Parkable”, and could squeeze into impossibly small parking spaces.

This car could park anywhere without getting a parking ticket.  Its license “NYPDMD physician” blared that its owner was a medical doctor affiliated with the police department.  It could park anywhere, any time, any way.

This Porsche in Hong Kong with “P45try” obviously belonged to the owner of a big pastry chain.

The owner of this car in New York probably owned a Chinese takeout restaurant.

Lexus is an expensive brand of car.  The owner of this “I❤️NY  Poor” car was probably not poor, contrary to the owner’s humility.

The owner of this station wagon was simple and direct.  He/she declared to be just “Human”.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The owner of this Porsche was “Clrkent”, Clark Kent.  He sometimes took the form of Superman to rescue the world.

But I found Superman laboring uphill with a bicycle.  I expected him to simply fly up the hill.  Maybe the bicycle was carrying kryptonite which disabled his super powers.  Alternatively, he could have driven his “Clrkent” Porsche and zip up the hill.

Another disillusionment.


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Author: Robert Wu

Two engineering and one business degrees, all from NYU. National president of Organization of Chinese Americans, two terms. General manager of a multinational corporation in China. Retired but still active. Married to a wonderful wife, one son & one daughter.

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