Mar 27, 2007

Gimlet-Eyed Thoughts on Tough Times

While driving through Ottawa Hills today - the last bastion of what wealth has not already been sucked out of Northwest Ohio - a car pulled in front of me with an interesting bumper sticker:


The well-dressed man drove a late model Lexus LS (I think it was a 460), and chatted on his cell phone as we turned onto Secor Road.

I looked at the bumper sticker again. Then back at the Lexus. And back at the bumper sticker.

What sorts of "tough times," I wondered, was this man thinking of when he affixed the aforementioned message? Did his foursome at the Inverness Country Club get rained out? Bad quarter for the half-million stashed in the old 401-K, dude?

True, 'tough times' is a relative term, but I couldn't help feeling this Lexus-driving person might not be the best qualified to offer advice on surviving said tough times.

Then again, at the time I was driving my 11-year-old heap of a Saturn, going home to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I was broke and it's three days until payday and I just spent over $700 at the vet and I still have to line up some kind of summer employment because my last UT paychecks hit the first week of May and we still owe about $1000 for my kid's tuition and the mortgage company - despite $3000 worth of monies in escrow - didn't pay my property taxes on time and now I get stuck with the late fees and I have to put off getting my teeth cleaned for another two months because none of my employers offer dental and I STILL haven't fixed my wiper blades so I'm driving in a mist with dysfunctional wiper blades and none of the resumes I sent out to local colleges has gotten me even one promising phone call and I'd hate to cut into the savings we have worked so hard to set aside.

And don't even get me going about the remote for the ceiling fan that got dropped and now will cost $60 to replace or the brand-new screen on the back door that one of my goofy kids pushed out or the hole in the pond in the garden that was created by a well-meaning but impulsive teenager who dug it up to "clean" it but which now leaks like a New Orleans levee.


Anonymous said...

"Leaks like a New ORleans levee."



Hooda Thunkit said...

Maybe "tough times" means that they didn't have the Lexus in the desired color, so he had to settle for the one you saw...

Tough times indeed.

BTW Mike, would that be classified as a bit of a rant?


historymike said...


I thought I coined a phrase, but in Googling "leaks like a New Orleans levee" I see it has been used at least twice in the history of humanity.

historymike said...


Sort of a stream of consciousness rant, or an angst-ridden outpouring of neuroses.

Lisa Renee said...

I hear ya Mike, and I prefer look at my life as a series of challenges that one day will end. Of course the day it ends will probably be the day I die but? Considering my life seems to do what yours is doing and hit in multiples (like right now no electricity in the bathroom - picture teenage girls (shuddering))

Supposedly the electrician is coming tomorrow and I can't wait to see what kind of wonders he discovers!

News Grinder said...

I hear Owens offers cheap cleanings (teeth) if you're willing to let a student work on you.

MP said...

The real problem, of course, is that by the time this gentleman must have bought his Lexus, the Hummer H2 that he REALLY wanted went down in price.

See, this is why, no matter how much money I have, I can never justify buying a Lexus.

Never mind that. The ol' truck will have to do for now.

Maggie Thurber said...

May I offer another perspective?

Perhaps this man worked really hard at his job until he moved up into a CEO position...or maybe he, too, lived on peanut-butter sandwiches (nothing wrong with that - I love them) while he put all his resources into a company that he started which is now successful...or maybe he invented something, marketed it and is now able to afford such things as a Lexis...

I think that the way we look at this man and his bumper sticker says more about US than it does him...

MP said...

Actually, I think it says volumes about the market that Lexus caters to.

Some stereotypes are just true 99% of the time. What of it?

historymike said...

I think it's less about the bumper sticker than the car.

People who drive cars like Mercedes, Lexus, or Hummers are making a very loud statement, something like "I have just a whole bunch of money, and gosh - I want everyone to know about it."

There are plenty of excellent new vehicles that do not carry the same attitude.

For the record: if I ever strike it rich, somebody smack me upside the head - HARD - if I buy an ostentatious vehicle like a Mercedes, Lexus, or Hummer.

McCaskey said...

Hmmm...I think its about the bumper sticker. Without the sticker, a guy driving a Lexus is not noteworthy or exceptional. Especially in Ottawa Hills.

You see a bumper sticker like that on a car like that and you immediately think of Michael Douglas playing Gorden Gecko on, what was the movie, "Wall Street"?

The Screaming Nutcase said...


How dare you group a Mercedes or Lexus sedan in with a Hummer! There is nothing commonly seen on the road that's remotely as ostentatious as a Hummer--an SUV that's less capable than other, cheaper, more roomy alternatives with better gas mileage (and by the way I've never seen a really dirty one, i.e. one that's been off-road). :)