Thursday, November 03, 2016

What Price Vanity?

I'm tired of complex numbers. Every news source the geezer follows has been crowded with a variety of poll outcomes, complicated analyses, and sometimes just plain wild guesses regarding the presidential election. The only big numbers I want to fill my head with in the immediate future are the results that will start appearing Tuesday night.

Those numbers will tell us whether our nation will be led for the next four years by a responsible, experienced person with a reasonable set of goals--Hillary Clinton--or an unbalanced, racist, egomaniac--Donald Trump.  I voted several weeks ago with an absentee ballot, something permitted by the State of Michigan for all people over 65. All the complex numbers tell us the election will be close in Michigan. Here's hoping we'll arise Wednesday morning to welcome our first woman president.

To stay away from the complicated numbers games, I decided to make this post about single digits, one displayed on my garage wall, the other adorning a luxury auto on the other side of the world.

Early last month, Balwinder Sahani, an Indian businessman, paid $9 million at an auction in Dubai for a one-digit auto license plate. It seems unique plates have become a fad in the glitzy United Arab Emirates. Auctions for them are held every two or three months, and millions of dollars are at stake.

Balwinder Sahani proudly displaying his D5 license plate (equivalent to No. 9)
About 300 bidders and observers crowded the auction hall when Sahani acquired the D5 plate. He said he will attach it to one of his Rolls-Royces. I don't understand Arabic or Indian mathematics, but apparently "D5" equals the numeral 9.

"I like number 9 and D5 adds up to nine, so I went for it," Sahani said. "I have collected 10 number plates so far and I am looking forward to having more. It's a passion."

I acquired a number 9 auto license plate in 1972. It had nothing to do with passion, and everything to do with luck.

I was registering our old Chevrolet shortly after we moved to Idaho. When my turn came, the clerk looked around at boxes of plates behind him and said, "How'd you like a really nifty number?"

"Sure, why not," I said. With that, my clerk and three others made a dive for one box. My guy came back clutching No. 9, which he promptly issued to me. He explained that Idaho had a license plate pecking order. The governor got No. 1, the lieutenant governor received No. 2, and so on down the political ladder. The line ended at No. 8 with the secretary of state. So by possessing No. 9, I had the lowest plate number a common citizen could get.

My number 9 didn't cost nine million dollars. As I recall, the vehicle registration fee in 1972 was just $12 or so.

We got a lot of comments and questions from folks who noticed our distinctive tag. One was from my supervisor, Ed Maw. Ed had many political contacts, and he was proud of his status in the community. He appeared to be miffed that I had the low number when he believed he deserved any such honor. I played the game. "Ed, it's all in who you know," I told him.
My No. 9 currently graces our garage wall.
It was fun while it lasted, but it didn't last long. About four months after my registration Idaho changed to a whole new plate design and numbering system. I got an unimportant replacement number just like the rest of the common people.

I kept Idaho 9 as a souvenir. It now graces my garage wall. Since Mr. Sahani could well afford the gesture, I hope he'll send one of those Rolls my way. I'll be pleased to drive it around displaying No. 9 for all to see.


Rummuser said...

I have been lucky whenever I got a vehicle registered as the numbers even without my asking for special ones added up to my lucky number 6.

PiedType said...

I'd be happy to drive that Rolls around, or any other luxury car (Rolls isn't really my style), with any old plate on it. I confess I have on occasion purchased vanity plates but the most recent one was more for charity than vanity. It's a special plate for Rocky Mountain National Park, and the extra fee went to the park. Otherwise I'd have been most happy to keep the standard green and white plate I was issued when I first moved here. It confirmed to me that after more than half a century of dreaming, I was really, finally, an official Colorado resident.

Dick Klade said...

Pied, I'd say supporting Rocky Mountain National Park falls squarely in backing a good cause, not vanity.

Anonymous said...

We are counting on you to hold the line in MI. I wonder if the Trump people factored in the effect of the large group of Arabs who reside in MI?

Alan Ginocchio said...

"9"... one of my favorite animated movies. You should watch it, I think you would enjoy it however if you expect it to be about license plates you'll be quite disappointed.

I stick with the "military vet" plates myself. They are like $4 for a three year period which is considerably cheaper than the standard yearly issue.

Dick Klade said...

Dianne: Indeed, Michigan has a large number of Muslim residents, primarily in and near Detroit. Trump is campaigning hard in our state, but I doubt he is gaining any votes from Muslim Michiganders.

Alan: Nice that Arkansas gives vets a break on auto registration costs. Here we can get a symbol identifying us as veterans, but no discount on the cost.

joared said...

Like your numbers story. Heard on my all-news L.A. radio station this morning an interview with a Calif. Repub, official.
Said they'd had phone banks of folks here in Calif. calling Michigan for weeks promoting Trump.

joared said...

Like your numbers story. Heard on my all-news L.A. radio station this morning an interview with a Calif. Repub, official.
Said they'd had phone banks of folks here in Calif. calling Michigan for weeks promoting Trump.