Bumper sticker messages are our modern cave paintings, of sorts. Sure, slapping on a personally meaningful bumper sticker may make your car or truck look tacky. But to some, aesthetics be damned if a bumper sticker message satisfies a cry of needful expression, or when it singularly replies to the chaos erupting around us.
There's the blunt editorial on the state of affairs, like "The gene pool needs chlorine." Some are pointed messages, like "Stupidity should be painful."
But there's one that always gets me thinking. I don't see it often but it seems like it's usually on the back of an old pickup with a hand-crafted camper shell.
It says something like: "The more I'm around people, the better I like my dog."
I know a couple who prefer their daily contact with their dogs to people they deal with on the job. They don't have that sticker, but they regularly recite it when we occasionally hook up.
This is a couple that got together after kids and failed marriages. Both have had long careers dealing with the public. One is a county planner, the other is a nurse. They're burned out from overwork and bureaucratic frustrations, topped off with occasional face time with accusatory and obnoxious customers.
They don't get it. All they've ever wanted to do is help people.
So what gives?
Well, it's a sad fact that there's no shortage of self-centered, manners-free people in our society. Just look at all the "Outta My Way!" driving going on. It's everywhere:
"That's right, I'm changing lanes! SIGNAL?! I'm butting into whatever lane I want, that OK with you, BINKY? Oh, you don't like it? Haah! Too bad, sucker! I'll cut you off next time -- no, better yet, I'll drive over you next time!"
So when dog owners pull into the driveway after work, they're more than ready for the comfort of their animals. The dogs are always excited and bursting with joy to see them. And the feeling's mutual after a harried day, topped off by a bad a commute.
All a dog asks is for some dog chow, water, a place to sleep, some pats on the head and a regular walk or run. In return, they ignore all their masters' cross-eyed moods and give them all the love and acceptance they can handle. This warm and fuzzy doggie love has convinced many people, everywhere, to get one or more dogs.
Even urban dwellers have big Marmaduke dogs and don't mind the hassle of caring for them. People have dogs along with their kids, or have dogs as substitute kids and build their entire nonworking lives around the care and feeding of their dogs. They have baby sitters for their dogs when they leave town. They walk or run with their dogs every day, or hire someone else to do it.
Some carry a stash of plastic poop baggies during their dog walks to keep the neighborhood relatively doodoo-free. Sure, cleanup time is awkward, but hey, it's the right thing to do.
Others give their dogs a bed in their bedrooms. And some actually let them sleep in their bed as a nice hairy, warm, comforting, etc., nighttime pal.
That's great. Who cares? If people like it, more power to 'em. What dog hair? What doggie smell? What slobber marks on my car windows? My dog loves me. What's not to like?
But liking dogs over people could mean something else.
Such as, I like to be boss. If people were more like dogs, and I'm their boss/master, with just a little training they'd do what I say with one-word commands, or even hand signals.
If I'm a little wired from too much caffeine and a dash of road rage, I could shout orders to my cube farms of yes-men and women. After all, they wouldn't have an independent thought in their heads, except for when to eat or go for a walk!
"That's a baaaaaad person," I could say to anybody screwing up. And that could bring on groveling, whining and worried eyes!
Or, when feeling jaunty about orders obeyed, I could also croon, "Good person, that's a good person, yes you are! Someone gets a personie treat for that!" Ahh, the power!
It's probably best when power-drunk bosses don't expect underlings to obey commands such as "jump!" "sit!" "stay!" or "lay down!" But hand signals might be good ...
Seriously, the dogs-are-good bumper sticker doesn't expect people to dumb down to a dog's behavior. It just notes how nice dogs are to humans, and how too often in our daily lives, humans treat each other shabbily. It simply conjures a better world if we all were as friendly as dogs.
So maybe Fido has something key to teach us humans. A new trick for an old, stubborn humanity to learn.
Maybe it's a notion for a new bumper sticker message. Something like, "Be nice to people. You know ... like your dog is to you."