White Numbers on Red

By | May 18, 2005

If you don’t live in California or you’ve never lived here, this post may not be very meaningful to you. Then again, maybe your State does something similar.

For a long time, I’ve wondered what was the meaning behind the stickers I would often see in the rear windows of cars, typically in the upper left part of the window. No, I’m not talking about the stickers with Calvin peeing on something or the stick figures representing family members (which is a whole nother story). I’m talking about the white numbers on a red background with white trim.

Finally, I decided to ask my police officer brother-in-law about the stickers, figuring that he would likely know the explanation. It turns out that these stickers are given out to people who have requested an extension for renewing their license tag sticker. Often, the excuse is that they need more time to have their car repaired so it can pass the smog inspection. The number represents the month by which they need to renew their tags.

In hindsight, I should have seen the pattern in the numbers. Surely that mathematician guy from the TV show Numb3rs would have figured it out. Anyways, mystery solved.

Surprisingly, the red background does not change from year to year. My brother-in-law told me that he suspects that some people reuse the stickers from year to year, or simply save them until some future time when they might need them. You would have to be a little careful about putting on new ones too early, though, since all the cops know how far in advance (usually only 2-3 months) the stickers are given out.

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