Press "Enter" to skip to content

How do we know how many fingers to wave?

Letter from T. L. Livermore

License Plates – April 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

How will we know how many fingers to use when we wave at other Colorado drivers?


The first thing I think every time I see one of Colorado’s new license plates is, “God, those plates are ugly!” I thought we tried this experiment once before, only to promptly return to green mountains and white letters.

And while I’m as dismayed as you by the trauma of no longer knowing who my neighbors are by the cut of their jib (or the lettering of their license plate), I have actually been in training for this moment for a few years, ever since I purchased a maroon Tracker like everyone else in town, and opted for vanity plates so I could find mine in the college parking lot after a basketball game.

This actually has worked very well over the years (as long as I remember it’s the Tracker I’m driving and don’t spend all my time searching for my truck), but . . .

But when I head for the Front Range or parts away from home, I occasionally pass a car with Gunnison County plates. “Ah, a kindred spirit,” I think, and then sadly realize that I’m the only one of the two of us that knows that, because my vanity plates don’t tell anyone where I’m from. It’s even more mortifying when I’m actually in Denver: Do you suppose these people think I live here?

Now we’re all going to be in this same boat (or driving down this same stretch of highway). None of us will know which drivers to wave at and which to flip off, because we’re all one big happy state instead of 63 little sects.

The part that really saddens me about this whole thing is that come September, I’ll probably have to turn in the truck plates I’ve had since 1984, because my “dash YD” comes after the number, not before it. I’ve had these plates since 1984, but it wasn’t until 1997 that I realized the significance of my number; it’s the same as the serial number of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek: 1701. How can the state possibly ask me to give this up?

So maybe I am one of these weird Coloradans who obsesses way too much over license plates. I must say, I think the ugly new ones are much more readable (albeit still extremely ugly) than the seven-unit plates on the road today, and nicer than the unreadable truck plates they started fobbing off on people a few years ago, but I’m still throwing in with the curmudgeon camp, convinced that it was better the way it was.

Thanks for the entertaining article and sidebars.

T.L. Livermore


1701-YD (which means you can tell I’m from Gunnison County) Soon to be faceless in the crowd.