Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Support Vermont Public Radio

I don't really go through phases in my life. If I like something I tend to stick with it. When I was five years old I lived for the Superfriends cartoon. Now I live for weekly trips to the comic store, while I continue to watch superhero themed cartoons. When I was nine I became a huge Brewer fan, and after thirteen consecutive non-winning seasons, I'm still a huge Brewer fan. I think I was the only person who still watched the X-Files after Mulder left the show.

My brother on the other hand, is all about phases. His taste in music has gone from Top 40 to grunge to aggro-rock/nu-metal and now indy rock. He used to be a sports fan but then pretty much quit watching any sports. He used to love to play basketball, then he up and decided he liked distance running better (strangely that is one phase he hasn't grown out of). For a brief time, he went through a hilarious phase where he was addicted to acquiring free stuff. The Internet was in its infancy in the late-90s and he used to spend hours on line trolling for rebates, coupons, and most of all, freebies. The now-defunct www.rageagainstthecashmachine.com was a personal favorite of his.

Although he tended to hoard the stuff, occasionally I was the beneficiary of some of his swag. Most notably, he once awarded me a bumper sticker that said "I Support Vermont Public Radio." Even before the hipster movement of the last few years popularized the idea of irony on T-shirts and the like, I was always attracted to all things ironic. I still have fond memories of a T-shirt I had in college in which I scrawled in black marker "I am a winner because I try my hardest." It was actually a slogan of my high school's wrestling team, but I found it deliciously ironic, much like the bumper sticker.

I proudly displayed this bumper sticker for several years, and it became somewhat frayed. In my eyes, if anything, this actually increased the ironic quotient and made it better. Then disaster struck. Once while I had it in for repairs at my Dad's shop, one of his 80-something employees decided he would be doing me a favor by removing it. My Dad knew I wouldn't appreciate it, so he pre-emptively told me about the incident and told me not to be mad at the employee. I didn't raise a fuss, but I couldn't put it out of my mind. Much like some people are haunted by an ex, I was haunted by the memory of how great my bumper sticker was. I first enlisted my brother to get another one, but the source had long dried up. I occasionally used the web to try to locate another, but with no success. Finally in August '05 I decided to contact VPR directly. Here is a copy of an e-mail I sent, laced with irony as a possible defense mechanism:

"About six or seven years ago my brother got a free "I Support Vermont Public Radio" bumper sticker online. He gave it to me and I displayed it on my car. Then, a couple years ago an old guy who worked for my Dad took it off the car and threw it away. He thought he was doing me a favor because it was slightly frayed, but I was devestated. Could you please send me a couple?

My address is:
Azor Cigelske
910M Mark Ct
Elizabethtown KY 42701

Azor "

I didn't try to mis-spell "devastated" but I'm glad I did. Made it that much more ironic. A few days later I got this response:

"Thanks again!


At 10:51 AM 8/24/2005, you wrote:
Hi Jean,
Bumper stickers are in the drawer at the typewriter desk behind you. You should send these to people free of charge whenever they request them.

Thanks, Jill"

Apparently, someone named Jill forwarded my e-mail with instructions to someone named Jean, who forwarded Jill's instructions and a note back to me. I took this as a good sign and waited for my bumper stickers in the mail.

Nothing happened.

A couple months passed and I responded to the e-mail and heard nothing back. Another few months and I tried again. Still nothing. Then a few days ago I tried again and made sure Jean and Jill were included in the e-mail. I included in my note something to the effect of:" As you can see by the date on the original e-mail, I am very serious in my desire to have some of these bumper stickers." I didn't hear back from either Jean or Jill.

Then today in the mail: a miracle. I held the envelope in my hand and shrieked when I saw that the return address was Vermont Public Radio. Inside was a mixed blessing. There was no "I support Vermont Public Radio" bumper stickers, but rather a half dozen smaller stickers that simply said "VPR." It's not the same, but it will have to do. Attached to the stickers was a one-inch by two-inch post-it note with the unsigned epigraph: "Thanks for your interest!" Persistence pays off. And my support of Vermont Public Radio has proven to be more undying than my brother's love for nu-metal or Internet swag.


Blogger Heidi said...

nice story. i one time dropped a piece of plastic out of my sister's window then tried to find it after the snow melted. not much luck.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

oh, and another thing. is that your real address? i could send you some Canuck beer...

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Your Dad said...

Too bad I didn't walk through the shop just a minute or two earlier, I could have stopped Burt before he did the dastardly deed. I was appalled at what he just did, but how do you criticize someone for removing a shabby bumper sticker when it's his job to make the place look nice? It's a good thing he didn't just take the whole car to the junkyard (and it didn't even have 325,000 Miles on it then [that's 522,925 Kilometers for you, Heidi]). Not to minimize your loss, but do you remember the story of my first car? It wasn't a bumper sticker, or even the bumper I lost, but the whole car. I got my driver's license with it, painted it, customized it, did emergency body work on it on my wedding day due to a little mishap, took it to North Carolina on our honeymoon, and it served me well for many years. It was down for repairs (that I hadn't gotten around to in a while) when one day I came into work, and all that remained where the car had been parked was a patch of dead grass. Now, this was a 14 year old station wagon, a little past it's prime and the engine was all apart. I never would have dreamed that I had to keep such a car safe from being towed away, but there it wasn't...and it was the day before. I was devastated. I told my sad tale to anyone who would listen (even you, but you were only one year old). A few weeks later, I was talking to my old high school friend Tom who worked at a feed store between my shop & home. Tom , I said, you'll never believe it, but the old 65 Chevy party station wagon has been stolen right out of my parking lot! Really, he said, a few weeks ago I was standing right out here and this blue wrecker came driving down the road with your 65 Chevy on the back. I thought you were having it towed out to your house. I waved at the guy, and he waved back! Why didn't you call me? I both asked and yelled at him. That was the last anyone ever saw of the 65 Chevy station wagon, with the 283 engine, Muncie 4 speed transmission with the Hurst Competition Plus shifter, Doug Thorley headers, sidepipes, 3:36 rear end, Corvette wheels, True Blue Metallic paint and of course the obligatory 70's blue SHAG carpeting Unless you were someone named "Rollie" who was named as a possible suspect by another friend who I shared the story with. "Rollie" and his wrecker matched the description Tom gave of the friendly guy passing through South Beaver Dam that day, and his reputation lent itself to such a caper. I think he had a market for that Muncie 4 speed. Knowing "Rollie"'s headquarters as being near Madison, and the central graveyard of all cars in that area, Midwest Steel, having their car "digester" down for repairs all summer, I decided to do a little sleuthing. I spent a whole day at every recycling place in the area, looking up and down the huge piles of 2 foot (that's .61 meters for you, Heidi) high cars looking for a familiar license plate or bumper sticker (no VPR stickers though). All to no avail. About 20 years later, who should walk into my shop to tow (legitimately) a customer's car out, but "Rollie". I simply asked him, "By the way, what did you ever do with my 65 Chevy station wagon that you stole from me in 1979?" He denied everything. This story will probably never end until I can find another "65 Chevy station wagon". Anyone out there have one for sale? Don't worry about the transmission, I have another Muncie 4 speed SAFELY hidden from "Rollie".

11:16 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

thanks for clearing up the measurement problems. but i think most of think in miles here.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...


most of us don't use the english language correctly either.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Azor said...

Dad, I'm surprised you didn't hire Rollie. (By the way, have you ever thought of setting up a blog?)

Is that my real address? Would I be dumb enough to put my real address on the Internet? Er...

12:37 PM  
Blogger Dam Insider said...

Azor's dad, I loved the story. I agree with your son, start a blog.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I have your Huge Lebowski sticker on the Lebron. It shares real estate with my Alaska sticker and my "Koppa's feeds the planet!" sticker.

I've held onto a few phases. Yesterday, for instance, I both played basketball AND mailed off my monthly Walgreens rebate. Every month Walgreens offers a few free-after-rebate items like toothbrushes and deodorant. I have way too many toothbrushes and deodorant. Also, instead of having them cut me a check, I always request the Walgreens gift card which kicks in an extra 10 percent. All this increases my DSOAI.

By the way dorkwad, if it wasn't for me you'd still be listening exclusively to oldies. Or maybe oldies and JUST "Big Bang Baby."

Dad should totally sell the shop and start a blog. I laughed out loud at several points, especially "there it wasn't."

9:48 AM  
Blogger Azor said...

Actually, he should keep the shop and write a blog about it.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

He's got enough stories saved up by now. He had enough stories saved up after a week.

10:04 PM  

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