We were on the Jersey Turnpike minding our own business, traveling at the speed limit–maybe not exactly the speed limit, but sort of close to it. Anyway, we managed to catch up to this white Honda CR- V that was coasting in the middle lane. As my husband got closer to this driver’s bumper, we noticed a plethora of bumper stickers and glittery things adorning his entire tailgate. Normally, car decoration overkill would annoy me only a wee bit, but I was groggy from the lack of sleep I was forced to endure due to the annual spring ritual of Daylight Savings Time, and so I was more peckish than usual.
I had time to read all his bumper stickers as we were stuck in a traffic box created by the stupid drivers around us who don’t know how to drive on major highways. The first few didn’t truly bother me as they were destination stickers for beaches and some Vermont mountain town, but as I read the rest of the stickers aloud, my stomach became increasingly queasy from the sugary sweet messages they were sending. These were his bumper stickers from left to right: “I love happy people”, “I love all of God’s creations”, “Joy fills my heart each day”, “Your soul longs to be happy”, “Clap your hands and sing out your joy” and my favorite, “Shout out and tell the world how happy you are to be alive.” I guess I should also mention that there was a Bible Club insignia and a metal fish.
I thought I might barf. Who was this guy to rub it in everyone’s face how happy he was? I felt the need to comment on what I read.
“Do you think this guy is one of the Duggar kids? Or an Osmond?” I asked my husband. “No one is this happy and those are the only two families who I know could fake it. By the way, feel free to ram his bumper.”
“See, I get a different impression,” my husband volunteered. “This is a guy who is trying too hard. If you have to tell the world in such a showy way that you are that happy, you are not that happy. It’s like the guy who constantly has to tell everyone you how great his wife is. No wife is that great. He probably takes anti-depressants.”
“So, what are you saying exactly? This guy in the car is on drugs or you never tell anyone how great I am? Think carefully. You only get one shot.”
Funny, how he didn’t answer back, but I have to admit that I understood his rationale about the bumper stickers. Contrary to the popular nursery school song, If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands, most people don’t have to be so demonstrative to prove their happiness. It sort of shines through.
When we finally got a chance to pull up and see who was behind the wheel, I had to admit that my husband was spot on with his analysis. This guy didn’t look so happy. He looked like the rest of us who had to drive the Jersey Turnpike the morning after losing an hour’s sleep. His passenger didn’t look that thrilled to be alive either. Even his Bible Club association sticker was not cheering him up.
Just as we were about to cut back into the middle lane after passing him, a car in the right hand lane cut him off and left us with nowhere to go. Mr. Happiness was not pleased and flashed him the bird. For a few short seconds, this guy was not that happy; he was as miserable as the rest of us, and I liked that because I knew he was human after all.
I think I might get some cool bumper stickers for my car. I know I won’t get those perfect family, stick figure decals because I don’t think I could live up to that “rosy” family life standard, but I could get some fun bumper stickers that would make people sit up and take notice. I like these: “It would behoove other drivers like you to know when I am PMSing.” or “I abandoned my family at the last rest stop, think what I could do to you.” And finally, “Honor roll kids don’t impress me; kids who make it through high school without having a baby– now, they impress me.”
Too cynical? Too bad. I think we all need the little cynic inside us to survive everyday life or at least the New Jersey Turnpike.