Three weeks ago Sunday, I moved back to California from Dublin, Ireland. The virus I had when I arrived has run its course, jet-lag is almost resolved (though I still wake up too damned early!) and my initial cultural shock has dissipated. Because California is where I was born and raised, its culture is deeply ingrained in me which has meant that adjusting to life back here has been similar to slipping on a worn but favorite sweater. (Or “jumper” as they’d say in Dublin!)
One thing I can’t get used to, however, are the LOW PRICES of everything! You may not realize it, but consumer goods cost way less in the United States than in the European Union. Dublin, on the other hand, has become one of the EU’s most expensive cities to live.
To give an example, a six pack of Budweiser beer—yes, Bud is popular among young Irish drinkers—cost 10 Euro at my (former) corner store. That’s $15 at the current exchange rate!
A six-pack of Heineken was equally expensive. A slice of cheap, greasy pizza cost 5 or 6 Euro. My tiny studio, which was roughly 175 square feet total and pleasant but NOT luxurious, cost 650 Euro a month—that’s $966. When I left, the landlord raised the rent to 750—or $1,115—and he didn’t even have to list it. The apartment was rented within days by word of mouth.
Being here reminds me of trips my family used to make to Tijuana to take advantage of cheap prices and the favorable dollar/peso exchange rate.
Because I’m living in Southern California, I need a car so I purchased a very low-mileage 2006 Ford Focus from my brother, who sells cars for a living. I never imagined I’d be a Ford owner—my first choice was a Prius but I can’t afford one. At my brother’s urging, I researched the Focus and was surprised to find it highly rated in every category. And while its mileage is not as good as a Prius, its greenhouse gas emissions ARE as low! The two-door model I bought is quite stylish, too.
So, for the first time in more than 5 years, I’m a car-owner. And for the first time ever I own a car with airbags. Whoo-hoo!
My question, readers, is this: if you own a car, do you have any sort of bumper sticker or decoration identifying yourself as either LGBT or progressive? A rainbow flag? An ACLU patch? An Edwards bumper sticker?
If so, do you notice favorable or unfavorable reactions from other people? Has your car ever been defaced or damaged? Do others drive more aggressively around you?
I ask because years ago when I was still living as a woman, I had a bumper sticker that read, “Women make great leaders: You’re following one!” Not long after I put it on, I noticed that certain male drivers were indeed driving more aggressively around me. While I can’t say for sure it was due to the bumper sticker, the correlation was suspicious.
In another disturbing incident, my (former) car was defaced in San Diego when it was parked near where I worked. I suspect the damage was done by one or more surfers—I worked near the beach and regularly surfed near where I parked. I’m somewhat effeminate and come across as gay, though at the time I had a girlfriend who regularly rode to work with me because she was taking classes on the university campus where I worked.
The vandal(s) scratched the hood of my car with a sharp object, writing into the paint, “Die you bisexual faggots!” I should have reported the incident to the university police, but I didn’t. The whole thing made me feel less safe, particularly because I figured they had to have either known me personally from surfing with me, or been watching me to know I was both a bit swishy and had a girlfriend.
At the time, I had no queer or other stickers. I’m thinking now, though, I’d like to put a small rainbow flag on my car....Thing is, it’s all shiny new and I don’t want some wanker scratching or damaging it purposefully in response to my sticker.
So, Bilericans, what's your experience with bumper stickers?