sticker collecting

Sticker collecting.

Dismissed as a child's obsession for too long, this noble pursuit needs to be acknowledged for what it truly is: a pastime for the wise, an obsession for the erudite, and a vital cog in contemporary international travel and commerce.

Stickers are undoubtedly a valuable and unique teaching tool for the younger set. Buying an album and methodically filling it with hockey players, ponies or dangerous sea creatures helps to grow one's body of knowledge and develops tangible skills. What better way for a child to learn about perseverance than methodically buying just one more pack as the rabid narwhal sticker continues to elude? And nothing heightens fine motor skills like the intense pressure found in evenly placing each image inside lines. I would even posit that scratch n' sniff root beer or popcorn stickers are a child's first chance to learn some of the inevitable sadness and desperation of life. The first scratch n' sniff is so good they keep coming back, hoping to recapture the same sensuous experience. No matter how deeply they sniff, or how raw their fingers are rubbed it's never the same, and they learn important lessons about addiction, impermanence and death.

To leave sticky picture papers behind for the youth is a fool's strategy, as stickers' lessons and benefits extend into the adult world. Most obviously stickers are vital cogs of commerce, providing easy access to price per product ratios at the shop, for instance. Whether on car or cake mix a sticker needs only to be lengthened or shortened to hold the requisite information. Or, in another context, how many times might I have eaten spoiled animal flesh if a sticker hadn't been there to direct me away from risky meat?

Wonderful stuff though it can be.

Today, some of the world's fancier stickers facilitate international travel. Imagine the confusion if we didn't have a system of visas, beautifully crafted of stencils, inks and holograms, to stick into our passports. People could be anywhere! The government wouldn't know and that just wouldn't do. It's all so helpful, and I might humbly suggest, underused. Visas and official passes should be extended down the ladder, as it were, away from international borders into provincial, or even county or neighbourhood divisions. Imagine the graphic and societal possibilities that arise when people are forced to collect stickers just to leave home. Wonderful!

Truly, I had never fully considered the benefits of stickers until a minor incident at the airport brought it all into focus.

Do you have any fruits and vegetables? said the kind bearded American, sitting behind his desk in a Canadian airport.
I do, an apple and some orange slices, I said. Being as honest and forthright as I knew how and unaware that my entry into American legal space was already happening.
Does your apple have a sticker on it?
It didn't and with a red mark on my card I was sent to see his mustachioed co-worker further along the line. This guy was a real prick, but rightly so. I didn't know that without a sticker saying my apple was American it posed a significant security threat to a country I wouldn't be entering for a few hours and only after a plane had carried me the 200 km necessary. And the dangers posed by citrus? Not even a sticker would allow my cut and bagged orange past this devoted guardian's desk.

So stickers, obviously, can't solve every problem, but with a proper collection strategy one can at least avoid losing an apple and being unnecessarily threatened with thousands of dollars in fines and a 3 month jail term because you aren't up to date on produce restrictions or aware of how impinged your nation's sovereignty has already become.

1 comment:

  1. i went to high school with a girl who had a produce sticker phobia. once the other students found out, it was common for her to enter the class to find a bunch of them stuck to her desk, which rendered her frozen in fear and the door. i heard of an incident where a young man tried to stick one on her arm, and was disarmed when she started screaming and could not be calmed.

    true story.

    maybe i should find her on facebook and stick this blog post on her wall, just to fuck with her.