“We Can’t Make This Stuff Up”

Last month the Slidell Police Department posted a photo on their social media page with the caption “We can’t make this stuff up”. The photo was of a Louisiana license plate sporting a corner tag from 1997. The driver of this vehicle claimed to have been “too busy” these last 23 years to go to the DMV to renew them. The traffic stop took place in the state of Michigan which was probably what caught the police officer’s attention in the first place.

This story has made the rounds of all news and automotive media sites because it’s easy fluff. A story that doesn’t offend or depress that can quickly be shoved into the furnace of the internet junkie obsession for new content.

This Story Stirs the Imagination

There is something to be said about someone driving around with plates from the Clinton administration. What makes the mind ponder is the laissez-faire excuse the driver used. “Sorry, officer. I’ve been busy lately and totally forgot to renew my vehicle registration. I will take care of it as soon as I get home.” This story jumpstarts the imagination for possible scenarios of the kind of driver that would do this. Like:

Wrinkled hands on the wheel of a burgundy 1995 Lincoln Town Car with less than 50,000 miles. A full-size highway introvert that rarely leaves the garage and therefore renewing the tags slipped the driver’s mind. How often does the average driver look at their own license plate? Excluding car-owners engrossed in their own self-described-clever vanity plates. So it is possible that some could forget. Everybody knows at least one person that would forget their own head if it wasn’t physically attached to them.

A 2009 Chevy Impala SS riding on Rent-a-Tire wheels sporting a new layer of side skirt rust. The dashboard beaming like Northern lights. Low hanging fruit on the lemon tree that graduated from the police auction to the used car lot into the hands of its latest victim. A scofflaw that cat-walked its way through DMV red tape via multiple state lines. A driver that panicked and said the first thing that came to mind.

I like a story that stirs the imagination. Stories about the oddball behavior of we the people that make us internalize a three word phrase inside our heads upon reading a headline. Florida Man stories are a great example of this.

Why was a driver’s car was sporting license plate tags from 1997? Was it a case of swapping plates and forgetting to remove the tag? Was it a brain that failed to notice a detail? Or was it a series of events worthy of a streaming series that led to this unusual ending to a license plate traveling the country.

I see license plates the same way you sometimes observe a coin in your hand and notice the mint year is 1997. You briefly think of the seemingly endless places its traveled to just to end up in your pocket, and where it will go once slipped into the vending machine coin slot.