Over the Holidays my wife and I made our way down to Chicago to visit my brother. With almost a 9 hour trip each way I had plenty of time to observe things.
Two things stood out:
Part of the trip to Chicago from Toronto via Sarnia required passing through Indiana, specifically the area surrounding Gary, Indiana. Quite honestly, a VERY depressing looking area. Subsequent discussion with my brother revealed that Gary once had the highest murder rate (per capita) in the United Sates.
What I noticed in this particular part of the trip was the advertising signs along the highway. American highways are littered with signs, at some points every 200 feet it seems. Typically signs are for lawyers, car dealers and colleges. In Indiana the signs were for Strip joints, Casinos and Adult Superstores. It just struck me as odd that in the area, which was by far the most economically depressed area of the trip, virtually all of the ads were for what I would consider “unnecessary” things….or things that typically did not provide good value for money.
People with the least amount of family income, you would think would have the least amount of “disposable” income as well. I know myself that a visit to the strippers or casino is expensive, and usually I feel badly afterwards that I have “wasted” that money. Adult superstores…or toy stores are another venue that I really can’t see myself frequenting if I am low on cash. “Sorry kids, we will be having Kraft Dinner again this week, Mommy just bought a new Rabbit!”
The other thing I noticed during the trip (the whole trip) was the number of vehicles, especially vans that were sporting stickers on their rear windows…“stick people” families. You would see a stick person Dad, Mom and X number of kids…even dogs and cats. The number of stick figures would vary depending on the make-up of one’s particular family.
The prevalence of these stick families reminded me of the (equally useless) yellow Baby on Board signs from the 90’s. It also made me think of how:
- People waste their money on really useless items
- How people have a herd mentality and follow the “herd”
I did a bit of research when I got home regarding these “Family Car Stickers”. It turns out that they run around $5.00 per sticker. That means Mom, Dad, two kids and the mutt will set you back $25. Not a big deal…but I really don’t see the appeal at all. Of particular concern was the fact that you could buy names for the family members for an additional $2.00 per figure. Really helps when undesirables know the names of your children, that you have left in the van for a few moments…while you run in to try your luck at the slots!!!!
Come to think of it, if I were going to spend $25 on something unnecessary…I’d be heading to the Strip Joint or the Casino. If I was feeling in a really giving mood…I’d buy my Honey a new Pocket Rocket. The last thing I could imagine doing with my money is advertising the make-up of my family via my car’s back window. Honestly…who cares?