Note: This column appears in the 5/9 issue of the Peoria Times...and has nothing to do with sports
My wife purchased a new car a few weeks ago. A few days ago she received her Arizona license plate.
Let me first say that this is quite a big deal for someone relatively new to the area. In fact, my wife was rolling around with New Jersey plates (she had her car shipped) since we moved here. For us, much more so than our house or our jobs or our willingness to exist in 125-degree heat, an AZ license plate signified our commitment to living here. It said to the world, “For all you know, I am actually from Arizona. So BACK OFF!” Or something like that. This would officially make my wife a local. A townie, if you will. An Arizonan. A woman. You get the idea.
She opened the big envelope while we did drumrolls in our heads. And there it was.
“What the heck is this?” she asked.
It appeared as if someone had mistakenly sent my wife one of those fake license plates that you would find in a tourist shop. From afar, it looked as though the license plate contained the entire alphabet, and all of those letters were flat, not raised up like on traditional plates. Possibly we could hang this on the wall of our bedroom and wait for the real license plate to arrive.
But the plate came with what appeared to be official documentation -- “This is your license plate. Love, Arizona.” -- so we relented, and attached it to the back of her new vehicle. Still, I needed to find out what was going on.
I did some research. Turns out -- according to the Arizona Republic -- that the AZ Department of Transportation issued its final six-character plate back in January, plate No. 999-ZZZ. (Knowing the unprecedented penchant for vanity plates around here, I imagine this was a pure coincidence, and the driver was the president of a company that sells $9.99 sleeping pills.) Also, the letters are no longer raised up, but flat, in order to make the plates more environmentally safe by using less aluminum. Which is nice, although it does take away some of the pure joy of running your fingers along a brand spankin’ new license plate, ya’ know what I’m saying? No? Whatever.
It seemed appropriate to me that the state had basically run out of license plates because so many people are moving here. People like us. And sure, the new seven-character plates will make it harder to jot down the license plate of the pick-up truck that just cut you off without using a blinker and while going 40 mph over the speed limit only to slam on its brakes and narrowly miss causing a 10-car pileup, in which case you can ineffectively report it to the police. But hey -- the new plates are environmentally safer! And they’re still made by prisoners, which is the American way. (I think the “#1 Yankee fan NY” plate I have hanging above my desk at work was made in Taiwan. Pfffttt.)
So, mystery solved. Now my wife has her new Arizona license plate, and although she still feels like somewhat of an outsider being one of the 12 people on the road with what appears to be a fake plate, she’s happy to be helping the environment. Even better, now we’re both, on the surface (of our cars), locals. So with our next car purchase, we’ll feel comfortable telling our fellow drivers how we really feel. Which is to say: BACKOFF.
First AZ license plate -- not very environmentally safe; Vehicle, however, is a hybrid