Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wyoming Status Symbols

In most urban and suburban areas, status symbols are mostly about disposable income, and displaying it flagrantly. A nice lawn, overachieving kids, best car, a boat, trophy wife, etc. Last week, I learned how the locals display their Street Cred. Er, Hayfield Cred. It's not the most head of cattle, nicest toys, not even the number of tasty animals that one has killed. It's not the old beat up ranch truck, although you're getting close. It's all about the numbers on your license plates.

For those of you that don't know, Wyoming License plates are prefixed by a number representing a county (I live in Uinta County, which is 19) after which, is a second number that are given out not-quite randomly. At one point, I think they just started with the lowest number and worked up. Every 9 years, new plates are issued, but you can request to keep your old number as long as you pay to keep that vehicle registered.

As a result, those who have lived here a long time, and still have Ford Trucks that are +25 years old and still in service, they have numbers like 19-127 while all of the transplants, like myself, have already gone into the letters, or into the five digit range. The lower the number that you have on your Wyoming License Plate, the higher your ranking is in the Rancher Elite. Silly, maybe, but it unofficially gets the point across that you've been here a long time, you have clout, and a vehicle registration on an old vehicle is cheaper than a BMW or a Jacuzzi.

A coworker, the son of a local rancher and an epic smart-ass, knew that in the past year a lot of the old-time ranchers have passed on. He needed to get his vehicle plates replaced, so he called his wife and told her to ask for the lowest number they have. She came back with 19-246 a full hundred lower than his brother who felt smug about his three-hundred numbered plate. His Dad said, "Son, you are gonna piss off a lot of the Ranchers around here, including me!".

But still, it's a lot like getting seat at the Adult's table at Thanksgiving: Some one has to die before you have a chance at it.

1 comment:

Wyoming Princess said...

HAH!! License plates and the adults Thanksgiving table ... great analogy. (P.S. - I've lived in Wyoming my whole life and have a five-digit plate. Some of us go incognito and like to shame our counterparts who think they're better than the rest of us. A number's a number, and no one outside Wyoming cares what your number is).