Do you ever, as I sometimes do, notice a license plate that seems poised somewhere between the randomness of the state DMV and a full-on vanity plate? And you wonder for a moment whether the driver is trying to send some oblique message (perhaps overpaying for a rather weak vanity plate), or whether you’re reading too much into the humble tags, conspiracy-theory style? Sometimes what might seem inconsequential to someone might be very meaningful to someone else; hence the “lucky number” plates in China, where “AC6688″ went for nearly $10,000. I’ve had rental cars that began with some suggestive group of letters, e.g., “RU,” or “G7,” and I always wondered whether others saw the glimmers of meaning. After all, we spend a lot of time looking at license plates in traffic.
But now I’ve learned, via Roadguy, that seemingly meaningless configurations can have a way of suddenly becoming meaningful. To wit, some 10,000 plates in North Carolina seem to begin with the three-letter designation: WTF. The DMV’s own website contains this little example of license-plate bingo gone awry. Now, the folks at the DMV are expert at screening out potentially offensive vanity plates, but they certainly can’t predict the future, and could not have known that that might become a very meaningful acronym from the world of texting. They’re offering to replace them.
Now it’s got me in a panic. My own plate begins with “CUY.” Do fellow drivers think I’m paying vehicular homage to the Andean delicacy? Or will that someday become a contentious acronym (for, I dunno, “Coyote Ugly Youth”)?
I’m curious as to what other examples of “accidental vanity plates” might be out there in the real world, and I’ll send a signed copy of Traffic to the reader who sends a photo with the best example to email@example.com. I’ll post the winner a bit down the road. CUL8R…