Cheap Thrill, Yellow Tags

We did a lot of cross-country driving when I was a kid, a LARGE family crammed into a station wagon for hours. I spent a lot of hours learning to play “license plate games” in order to keep what little sanity I had.

Things like that get ingrained deep in the subconscious.

Case in point – California was one of the first states to long ago stop giving everyone a new license plate for their car every year. Instead you get one set of plates and then you get a new sticker to put on it every year. To make sure that you pay your registration every year, and to make it easy for the police to see if you haven’t, the stickers are a different color every year. The 2017 stickers were green – see one of those and you know that the registration is late and you get a ticket. The 2018 stickers were orange – see one of those and you had better have a “DEC” plate to go along with it. The 2019 stickers are blue – lots of them out there right now.

This is that time of year in California when the next year’s stickers start to appear. For years, around Thanksgiving, I’ll start looking, keeping half an eye peeled when stopped at a light. It’s a little game to see when I can spot the first sticker of the new year.

Cheap. Thrills. (As advertised.)

But now I get to cheat. Hissy has “JAN” tags and I got the registration bill last week. I paid it quickly even though it’s technically not due for another two months and ever since I’ve been diligently watching for that first tag of the new year. I haven’t seen it yet. And today’s mail brought mine.

I WIN!!!

I have the “first” 2020 tag to put on Hissy.

They’re yellow.

It’s not quite godhood – just a leftover psychosis from a childhood crammed into the back of a 9-passenger station wagon driving from South Dakota to Maryland. But we all take what we can get.


Filed under Paul

3 responses to “Cheap Thrill, Yellow Tags

  1. We used to have a game to spot numbers in order. This was when our number plates were XYZ n where n could be 1 to 999. Then they stuck a year code on it, so XYZ n A, then they switched it round after they got through to Z so it became A n XYZ. And for all those variations, kids could play the number game. I think I got to 256 before giving up.
    Now we have a year code in our plates. AB 18 XYZ where AB is a code for the registration office, 18 for the first half of 2018 (in the second half it becomes 68). Yeah, you can still play the numbers game from 01, but what’s the point?
    On the plus side, we no longer have to display tax discs. It’s all on the central computer. Nowhere to hide. Saves a fortune in admin costs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another game I learned was very useful when I had to learn the phonetic alphabet for my pilot’s license. The basic format for the plates for California cars has been “nXXXnnn” for years so you’re surrounded by random character strings “XXX” when stopped at a light. Getting to where “4SYN691” translated without thinking to “Four Sierra Yankee November Six Niner One” meant you had that down pat!


  2. Pingback: Cheap Thrills, Green Tags | We Love The Stars Too Fondly

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