aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Vanity plate verifiers

Did you know there were such things as vanity plate verifiers? Oregon has five or six. They look for any combination of letters and numbers that may be viewed as objectionable, in any language, by use of phonetic, numeric or reverse spelling, or when viewed as a mirror image, or that would alarm or offend a reasonable person. Intimate body parts or sexual or bodily functions are taboo, as are offensive references to race, color, gender, ethnic heritage, or national origin or to alcohol or drugs or paraphernalia.

As is the name Udink. Even though it really belongs to some folks as a last name, and several of them had plates with variants on it, Oregon has now pulled all the plates, because I guess as a noun, dink has some kind of sexual meaning, and as a noun, it can be a bad slang reference to a Vietnamese person. Read more about this story here.

I always thought it was weird that there were people who sat around all day trying to figure out if your plate said something dirty in Portuguese. I’ve even met a verfier. She came to a signing one time and gave me a treasure-trove: her list of favorite plates that she had collected over the years. It was a treasure trove because I was in the middle of writing a mystery series featuring a vanity-plate verifier. The first in the series was Circles of Confusion.

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