It’s funny what banality can trigger memories.
Sometime in the coming weeks, I will undertake a ritual for the very last time. A ritual that has always connected me to my father. A ritual that was ours when my father was alive.
When I was little, I used to be dad’s 2IC when it came to replacing the annual registration sticker on the family car. This used to involve razor blades, hours of concentration, methylated spirits and cut fingers. Back in the day, the Government used to issue each vehicle with a registration sticker which showed the month of registration, the year of validity and the registration number, make and VIN details of the vehicle. It was up to each owner to apply the sticker to the windshield of the car after removing the pervious year’s version as it was an offence to leave the old sticker visible. So dad and I would set off to laboriously scrape off the old sticker which was made of a thin plastic film and applied to the window with a coat of glue. It was a transparency sort of affair which we could only remove using methylated spirits and razor blades. And the reward for persisting? A formerly whole registration sticker now hacked to a million plastic bits all through the car.
Whatever was involved, I loved this father/daughter time. It was him and me against the world.
As I grew, Dad anointed me in charge of the great registration sticker exchange. Out would come the razor blades and the metho (Aussie vernacular for methylated spirits) and out I’d go to the car and do the deed. By this time, adhesive technology had evolved to the point where the registration sticker was less transparency, more sticker in the traditional sense. No water was required to activate the adhesive. This made old sticker removal somewhat quicker and easier, although the razor blades still came in handy.
Every year I change my registration sticker I use the same tools, the same methodology and I think of my father.
Our Government has finally decided to come into the twenty-first century and will from this year rely on its computer records as proof of registration. There will be no more registration stickers to apply and only this last one to remove.
My kids will never experience this ritual.
I will miss it. As I miss him.
In the coming weeks, my final peel will be for you, dad.