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I guess I just like liking things

There’s this scene in Star Wars where the Millennium Falcon has been captured and is sitting in a dock on the Death Star. Two Stormtroopers have been stationed at the bottom of the ramp into the Falcon, and a scanning crew has been sent inside. Not long after the scanners have entered the ship, someone calls down to the Stormtroopers and asks for help, so they go up into the ship.

Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Pol Treidum attempts to contact one of the Stormtroopers: “TK-421, why aren’t you at your post? TK-421, do you copy?”

A Stormtrooper (presumably TK-421) comes down the Falcon’s ramp, looks up at the office where Pol Treidum is, taps his helmet, and indicates his comm is down. When Pol leaves the room to go check on TK-421, everything falls apart (Empire-wise) and Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, now dressed as Stormtroopers, start looking for Princess Leia.

It’s a short scene, but important. It’s how Han and Luke get their Stormtrooper outfits, and it gives them access to the computers so R2-D2 can look for where Leia is imprisoned. I don’t know why that trooper’s designation stuck in my head when I can’t remember my home address without looking it up half the time, but there it is.

Okay, so… now what? Why bring this up?

Several months ago, the state of Indiana started handing out license plates that started with “TK,” followed by three numbers, and then three more letters. Like this: TK123ABC. When I saw the first couple of them, for some reason that scene from Star Wars came to mind, and I knew that somewhere out there a plate with TK421 on it had to exist. More exactly, there were at least 15,600 plates out there, and possibly 17, 576 of them, depending on how the BMV feels about repeated letters (source). Assuming there exists every possibility between TK421AAA and TK421ZZZ, it seemed likely it wouldn’t take that long for me to see any plate in the series.

I started out casually, “oh, hey, a TK plate.” But then it became an obsession. “TK419. AH! Close!” and “TK241 – right numbers, wrong order!” And I involved a friend, who quickly became as obsessed as I. I tried explaining it to my wife once, but she gave me a “I’m very concerned about your well-being” look, so I didn’t bring it up any more.

I was on the phone with said friend the other day, and he said, “I just saw it! TK421!” but he couldn’t get photographic proof. “Maybe he works around here,” he said. “I’ll check next time I’m over here.”

Two days later, I got this picture from him:


Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t exciting, because it certainly was… for him. I mean, it confirmed to me that it was out there, but I already was 99% sure of that. I guess it just bummed me out that I didn’t see it firsthand. I’m still on the lookout, and probably will be even after I see one (if I ever do).

“Now what?” asked my friend.

“Well, I thought about that,” I replied. “And you know how it was Luke that ended up in TK-321’s armor? I think we should be on the lookout for ‘TK421SKY,’ for ‘Skywalker’.”

He groaned, but I’m pretty sure he won’t be able to resist.


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