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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Bumper Sticker Philosophy

How a trip to the grocery store shifted my perspective


"My Child is an Honor Student at (whatever) Elementary."

"My other car is a Jeep."

"I'd rather be at the beach."

These are just a few examples of the bumper stickers I see around town as I run between the local Kroger trying to source Old Bay Flavored Goldfish and my home. Even though the bumper sticker is an integral part of my industry (it was invented by Forest Gill of promotional products supplier Gill Line in 1948), I've never felt compelled to put the rectangular-shaped adhesive on a car. Like a tattoo, it just feels too permanent. Even so, they are clearly an effective form of advertising as I still notice them daily.

Last week while continuing my quest for the above-mentioned Old Bay Flavored Goldfish, I saw a bumper sticker that legitimately stopped me in my tracks.


I peered closer to read it several times and see if it was written by my good friend Kirby Hasseman (it wasn't) before shuffling into the grocery store. During my fish-shaped cracker quest, I couldn't shake those three words as I felt they were speaking directly to me. I checked out with my salty snack treats and, before I drove home, snapped a quick picture of the bumper sticker. As I went home, I kept wondering why I was captivated enough with three stickered words on a Hyundai to take a picture of it.

No spoiler alert here, as the answer was simple: I've made a cottage industry out of the postponement of joy – especially over the past six months or so, and the reason is equally apparent: more often than not, I put the needs (and wants) of others before myself. Truth be told, I've never been good at self-care. Sure, I spend a lot of time in my backyard cooking all manner of barbecue, but I also tend to spend time working while I'm cooking. So while I know that it's critical that I take time for things in life that give me tremendous joy, like spending time with family and friends, writing for pleasure, feeling the sun on my skin, and allowing my entire being to be enveloped in music I love, it's just not how I'm wired.

Since I'm not born with the innate ability to embrace joy in the moment, I need to be intentional about it. Look, I'm not going to suggest that a bumper sticker changed my life, but I'll be damned if it didn't give me pause to think. I genuinely believe that if I stop postponing joy, I'll be a more pleasant person to be around and be more focused and efficient when I am working. As a bonus, I'll likely enjoy life more. Not a bad little result from a slight mind shift.

However, I'm still not putting a bumper sticker on my car. I hope that on this Memorial Day, you don't postpone joy.

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