Sticker Shock


Ah, the aroma on my fingers is quite vexing indeed. It's a combination of WD-40, rubbing alcohol, Goo-Gone and nail polish remover. And the sticky black residue is just an added bonus.

My four year-procrastination ended yesterday as I undertook the detestable task of attacking those impossible-to-remove Wisconsin State Park windshield stickers. It took about 90 minutes to remove four of them that have accumulated over the years. That explains the procrastination.

I am not alone in my derision for this park-visiting requirement. At Devil's Lake a few years ago, I was behind this young guy who was going through the ranger station with his nice sports car. He wanted the annual pass, which he paid for and was given. He was then instructed to stick it on his windshield.

"No way," he told the ranger. They got into a rather heated discussion about the necessity of actually sticking that on the windshield as opposed to just leaving it on the dashboard. Ultimately, the ranger promised it would cost him $50. Stick it or ticket, baby.

I talked the guy off the ledge by commiserating with him, confirming that he was absolutely right about this annoying requirement, but that he can't possibly accept a $50 fine as a protest every time he goes to a state park!

He agreed and acquiesced.

Yesterday, I felt his pain. Wasting a good portion of one of our few nice Saturdays of late with a razor blade, scraping these things off the glass was the last thing I felt like doing. The gooey residue is among the least pleasant aspects of this chore.

The maniacal genius who invented these stickers should not be shot. Instead, his car windows should be plastered with them. Then we'd make a YouTube video of him killing himself, trying to get them off with nothing but a putty knife and a jar of peanut butter. Man, I'd love to see that!

The way these stickers work (they live up to their name) is that you get the edge to come off the glass and then it quickly rips so you can't actually pull the whole thing off. What you have are a bunch of gooey, gross strips or pieces of broken film. By the time you work off all of the pieces, you have a big smudge of grossness that must be rubbed off with some solution. This entire process is quite time-consuming.

Obviously, there are much bigger state issues to worry about than State Park stickers, but anything that soaks up that much time, energy and frustration is worth taking a look at and revising. Maureen tells me the Legislature even debated this issue at one point, but never resolved it. The Parks Department isn't up to the task of figuring out a better way?!

I just can't believe this is the only strategy to make sure people don't use the sticker on multiple vehicles or let their friends use their permit. Making the thing nearly impossible to remove doesn't seem like good customer service to me.

A state that discovered Vitamin D and invented the Lambeau Leap can certainly find a more innovative way to charge people to use state parks. There must be some sort of electronic scanning of a license plate, for instance, that would do the trick. And I bet if somebody surveyed other states, we'd find that somebody already figured out a better way.

In the meantime, I Googled this problem and found a product that was designed to beat the system. I am not buying my 2014 park sticker until it arrives.

My fingers might be back to normal by then.

Posted on March 30, 2014 .