It’s supposed to promote state tourism. I get it. Oregon has over a dozen of them. Specialty vehicle license plates that drivers can pay extra to use in lieu of Oregon’s generic green fir tree plate. Among them are the Salmon plate, the Cultural Trust plate, the Amateur Ham Radio plate, and the Wine Country plate. The picture on the Wine Country plate is a vineyard with a big WC on it, and if that abbreviation isn’t clear enough, the words, “wine country” are printed below the plate number. While I can understand the desire of a vineyard or winery owner to slap a Wine Country plate on their BMW, the sheer insanity of anyone else doing so is beyond me. The “Wine Country” plate might as well say, “Pull me over, officer. I’m drunk.”
Drivers use these plates to make a statement. The Salmon plate allows one to emphasize the importance of the conservation of salmon. The Cultural Trust plate allows the opera and fine arts crowd to stick their noses up in the air an additional five degrees. And the Ham Radio plate lets the pocket protector brigade proudly announce their expertise. I have to be careful making too much fun of the ham radio guys (I say guys because I’ve never met a girl interested in ham radio), because when everything collapses (you know, the Big One, total annihilation of modern infrastructure), I may need to hunt down one of these fellows to help me find my relatives, some of them anyway.
The Wine Country plates are a whole different matter. Drunk driving laws have now become so strict that when a police officer smells even the hint of liquor on a driver’s breath, he is required to immediately stun the person in the neck with a Taser and drag their behinds to the nearest hoosegow. No questions asked. These aren’t license plates, they’re targets. I imagine that Salmon plate people like salmon. And I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind sticking a Ham Radio plate on their car who isn’t a ham radio operator (unless, of course, they’re just using them to cruise for chicks). Well, what do you think a cop thinks a Wine Country plate driver is interested in? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah, that’s right Sherlock.
So here’s the nut. If you have the cojones to bolt a Wine Country plate onto your car, you need to keep three things in your vehicle at all times. First, the personal cell phone number of a flesh-eating criminal defense lawyer – the kind that eats state troopers for breakfast. Second, a roll of Benjamins to post your bail. And third, lip gloss. Because after you’re arrested, you may as well kiss your *** goodbye. Why risk chaffing that baby smooth skin of yours in the process?
So, in conclusion, I pose one question to Oregon wine lovers: Have you ever thought of learning the time-honored skill of Amateur Ham Radio?
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