I have had the same license plate number for most of my driving years. Since sometime in the 1970s. The DR actually represents the initials of David Rodriguez. And as luck would have it, it’s also the abbreviation for “doctor.” One of the main reasons I felt pressured to get my Ph.D. was the fact that every time I looked at my license plates, I saw “Doctor” at the beginning of my plate number. So how did I get this license plate number? Well, my mother was so proud of her license plate, CR 2509, that she wanted me to follow suit. So, she told me how the Illinois Secretary of State allowed vehicle owners to request license plate numbers–two letters, followed by four numbers–and would be assigned to their vehicle if they were available. My mother was Carmen Rodriguez and she lived at 2509 W. Marquette Road, so she requested CR 2509 and she got it because it was available. My mother thought it would be great if I could get DR 2509. She was really excited about the prospect of us having similar license plates. She wasn’t this excited about license plates since we both bought our plates, at her suggestion once again, from Talman Federal Bank. Both of our plates began the letters TF. Unfortunately, I didn’t get DR 2509, much to my mother’s disappointment. But I did get DR 2047. My initials and the year of my death. Okay, the year of my death is just wishful thinking on my part. If I live that long, I’ll be 91. Now that I think of it, perhaps I’ll want a little more time.
In general, not many people have ever noticed that DR represented my initials. Not that I ever pointed it out to anyone either. I did like the fact that my initials made 33% easier to remember my license plate number whenever someone asked for it. However, one day, I had to stop at a red light. I was about three cars back from the light in the left lane on north Ashland Avenue when I hear a car honking its horn. I look in front and to the right and then I finally look in my rearview mirror. But I didn’t see which car was honking. Finally, I look to my left, from whence the honking originates, and see a German import car in the left-turn. Only there are no other cars in front of this car and it’s not pulling up to the stoplight. A man is driving and the female passenger is motioning for me to lower my window. I reluctantly obey. “Your plates are so cool!” She yells even though she’s less than two feet away from me. Her male companion rolls his eyes behind her and she’s oblivious to his disinterest in our conversation. She gives me to thumbs up and as I begin to explain how I got my plate number, they pull away because they have a left arrow. Suddenly, I’m wondering why she thought my plates were cool. Why couldn’t she stay long enough to explain? For weeks I’m mulling over the significance of my plate number to her–and more than likely, no remote interest in my plate by her male companion, which is why he pulled away before she could explain her logic to me. I told a few of my friends about the incident and they all thought it was weird. All I could come up with was that she perhaps thought DR was for “doctor” and 2047 was pronounced, “twenty-four seven” or 24/7. That was the only thing that came to mind and my friends agreed. But to this day, I’m still in suspense!