Thursday, November 18, 2010


A few years ago, there was a controversy over license plates belonging to Whitby clergy, Reverend Joanne Sorrill. It appeared that she had been given a gift of personalized plates for her 50th birthday some 20 years earlier. These same plates, acceptable in 1987 were considered offensive in 2007. Clearly, someone at the provincial motor vehicle license bureau was far more worldly than the rest of us. "Rev Jo" were the letters on the plate. These apparently promote speeding and drinking particularly when seen on the vehicle of a septuagenarian. Eventually, she was able to renew her plates and a story that appeared newsworthy became yet another folly of beaurocracy.

In 2008, Edward Johnston tried to replace his nine year old worn plates. They said "BILT4SPD". His application was denied. According to the Windsor Star, April 24, 2008, the personalized license review committee said "his plates could be considered by some members of the public as contradicting the ministry's mission to promote road safety as it could be perceived to denote speeding or racing." Apparently, rules for personalized plates have been revised since Mr. Johnston originally purchased his, so the ministry feels they are within their rights to revoke and cancel plates which a person has paid for and owned for many years.

The Ministry of Transportation now has a ten member review committee which meets weekly to determine whether proposed plates are acceptable or whether they fall under the guidelines of obscene, derogatory, racist or contain words about drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, criminal activity, politics, trademarks and religion. According to the Toronto Star, October 28, 2010, " more religion referencing plates were rejected than those that referred to sex, violence and alcohol."

I have inherited two sets of personalized license plates. One set has the letters "I E W" on it. They belonged to my mother and those were her initials. Should these letters be considered a short form for an offensive phrase at some future time, will I be forced to return them? My dad's former plates which now reside on my car have the word "Weinheim" on them. This is the name of the town where we were both born. Translated it means "home of wine". Does this not promote drinking? Will I likely be losing these plates?

I totally agree with a review committee for the purpose of looking at "new" requests for vanity plates. In fact, I believe that this is necessary since some people are unable distinguish between humour, creativity and impropriety. On the other hand, the committee should also use a modicum of common sense and I feel that they should leave existing plates alone.

Having said all this, I'm wondering where the review committee was when the plate that I observed today was approved. Perhaps, it wasn't a vanity plate. Maybe it was just one that was issued in sequence along with all the rest beginning with the letter "B". If that's the case however, what are the odds that it would be followed by the word "JOB"?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I Have Learned at Age 60

It's a well known phrase. "You're never too old to learn something new". My discovery may be obvious to many, and maybe I should not be admitting this as a revelation so late in life. Perhaps I've never had the occasion to really think about it before now. I confess, it came to me like a lightening bolt yesterday morning as we were driving to church for my dad's memorial service. I mentioned my new piece of awareness to hubby who simply replied, "That's right. You've got it."

I had attended funerals in the past, mostly those of aged family members. When my mom died at a relatively young age after a short illness, I was so absorbed in my own challenges, a husband who had undergone recent surgery and two small children, one with medical issues, that I barely remember the events. I was sad, overwhelmed and stressed and everything felt like a huge blurr. I do have a memory of large crowds of people attending the service and vehicles which lined Liverpool Road from south to north in what appeared to be an endless procession.

During this past week we have been planning dad's memorial, writing a biography, clipping and gluing photo displays, selecting hymns and bible verses, printing bulletins and everything else involved with organizing this service. Sympathy cards arrived daily as did condolence emails and telephone calls. I was amazed at how many of my friends had somehow learned of our sad news. I was also surprised and pleased when some said they'd be attending the service. After all, they barely knew my dad if at all.

So what did I announce on our way to church yesterday? Only this, "I think I figured something out. I think that a lot of people attend funerals and memorial services to support the survivors".

The memorial service was lovely. I held it together long enough to complete my reading of "I'll Really Miss Him" (blog Oct. 9, 2010). I was sad, stressed, nervous and yet happy to see the terrific turnout of people. In attendance were family members plus many of dad's friends, church members, people from his old neighbourhood and representatives from places he'd worked. Then, there were my friends...close friends, distant friends, former co-workers and even my eighth grade teacher! It was fantastic to see them and to realize that all these people had taken the time to attend.

Last night, I mentioned to hubby that perhaps I wouldn't have any kind of a church service or gathering when I die...maybe just something small and private. His words were, "Before you decide that, remember what you just told me you learned".