First, Chris Rock: On Monday morning the comedian tweeted a photo of a bumper sticker that has gained quite a bit of fame on the Internet.
“Giant Meteor 2016,” the decal reads, “Just End it Already.”
Modeled on Bernie Sanders’s jaunty red-white-and-blue “Bernie 2016” logo, the satiric bumper sticker is bipartisan, albeit in a depressing way.
The bumper sticker’s message is connecting with that portion of the population — namely, 100 percent of people — who are mentally and emotionally exhausted by this long, angry, ugly election season.
Rock has nearly 4 million Twitter followers, but one person who didn’t see the post was the man who owns the silver Honda Element that was wearing the bumper sticker in Rock’s photo.
He’s a Tennessee software engineer named Ben Stucki. Not only is the car his, but he’s the guy selling the decal on Amazon — or, rather, one of the sellers.
“It should feel amazing,” he said when reached by phone.
Should . . . but didn’t. By mid-afternoon Monday, the 1,900 retweets of Rock’s post had not translated into sales, a situation Stucki attributed to one of two factors:
1) People nodded ruefully at the bumper sticker’s truth, but didn’t rush to buy it.
2) A “copycat seller” on Amazon had managed to siphon off his business.
That Stucki was even disappointed by the lack of sales represents a big change in attitude. He only got into the business of selling Giant Meteor 2016 bumper stickers because he wanted to make one for his own car. With the printer offering a minimum order of 50, he needed a way to unload the other 48 (the 49th he gave to his wife).
He signed up to become an Amazon seller, and although things got off to a slow start, by June 13, he had sold 1,534 and counting.
Stucki says he was the first one selling the sticker on Amazon, but despite that credential, in an interview Stucki emphasized that he was not the person who came up with the idea. For a while he didn’t even know who did create it — he’d merely seen the image on Facebook.
But then, a customer e-mailed with a revelation:
“I’ve been following the evolution of this meme since I posted the original version of it on my personal facebook page [on April 20],” a man named Preston Whited e-mailed Stucki. “I created it in a few minutes by modifying a Bernie Sanders sticker in Excel.
“Anyways I just wanted to say thank you for bringing this image into physical reality and sharing it with the world so that many more people could enjoy it. I’ll be enjoying the bumper sticker I ordered for myself as well.”
Wait — in this day and age, the person who created the image is happy for someone else to make the buck?
Yes, said Whited, a 30-year-old who works for a Washington State company that makes kayak paddles.
“I didn’t come up with every part of it,” he said, noting that a friend thought of the words. “I just slapped it all together.”
Then he uttered a message of unity that seemed destined to make it onto another bumper sticker: “We’re all part of one big global team of meme making.”