by Navin Banthia
Today’s Newspaper is Tomorrow’s waste paper
Collecting things has been man’s hobby for thousands of years. Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, who lived more than 1,300 years before Christ, collected Canes. US Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt collected stuffed birds. Some collects one-handled Vases and some the graffiti truck drivers in Brazil write on their bumpers, mud flaps, cabins and trailers, reflecting their likes and dislikes and a philosophy of life born of the long periods of solitude they endure on the road.
It is not easy to say when the first truck graffiti appeared in Brazil, although writer Vasco Taborda discovered, in 1928, written on Truck bumper in Curitiba, Parana : “Excuse My Dust.“ His own collection started in 1952, when he came across a truck that claimed “God Is My Guide .” Within a few years, with the help of friends he collected nearly 2000 entries.
Truck drivers are obsessed with women , for or against ; “ If God Created Something Better Than Woman, He Kept It For Himself," “A Woman is Like a Road: The More Curves She Has, The More Dangerous She Is“.
Truck drivers also voice opinions on marriage and in-laws : “If Getting Married were Really Great , You Wouldn’t Need Witness“ ; and “Having A Poor Father In-Law Is Fate, Having A Poor Father In-Law Is Stupidity.” But when love is concerned, the truck driver is capable of aiming for the impossible , as this surrealistic slogan implies ‘For You, I Would Scrub A Black Vulture White “.
Mystical Characters – It is said that there was truck driver in a small country town who wanted to honour his girl-friend, so he placed this Sticker on his bumper “Rose Is Gorgeous.” Months passed, and also did their love. Rose married the mayor, but the sticker remained on her ex-boyfriend’s truck. Rose’s husband was not amused and asked the police to take care of the matter. At first the ex-boyfriend ignored the police, but as requests became threats, he promised that when he returned from a trip up north, Rose’s name would no longer adorn his truck’s bumper. People lined the street to witness his entry into town. His truck rolled in, horn blasting. Rose’s name had disappeared ; in its place was written “I Still Think So “.
Brazilian truck drivers possess an acute critical sense; “If The Earth Were Truly a Wonderful Place, Its Creator Would Live Here“ ; “Rich People Pass Away, Poor People Die. “They also offer advice : “The Snake That Dosen’t Move Ends Up As A Belt “ : “Being Important Is Not Always Good, But Being Good Is Always Important“.
In general, truck drivers are superstitious, but one placed this phrase on his bumper : “If Horseshoes Really Brought Luck, Horses would Ride In The Cars “ . The transitory nature of earthly glory also finds expression : “ Today A Peacock, Tomorrow A Feather Duster.‘ Another inscription proclaimed : “ If The World Were Really Wonderful , Nobody Would Enter It Crying “.
Truck drivers come mostly from Brazil’s interior , where religious traditions are strong , as the mystical character of some of the graffiti testifies. A humorous example : “God Was Able To Create The World In Six Days Because There Wasn’t Anybody at His Side Asking Him When He Would Finish His Job.”
From the confine of his cabin, the truck driver sees a road stretching endlessly before him, a road that he must conquer by driving alone as much as 16 hours a day. The chosen phrase painted on his vehicle is his way of conducting a dialogue with those he passes on the road, of addressing the world – often with a wry sense of humour :
“If Death Is A Rest, I would Rather Be Tired.” ***