bumper [=insurance?]

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jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
What does bumpers mean in this contact and what does Wilson think of as numbers?

Wilson’s mother, not one of the world’s shiny happy people, had a saying: ‘When things go wrong, they keep going wrong until there’s tears.’
Mindful of this, as he was of all the folk wisdom he’d learned at his mother’s knee (‘ An orange is gold in the morning and lead at night’ was another gem), Wilson was careful to take out travel insurance –which he thought of as bumpers –ahead of occasions that were particularly important, and no occasion in his adult life was more important than his trip to New York, where he would present his portfolio and his pitch to the top brass at Market Forward.
Source: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen

This is the onset of the novella and hence there is no further context.

I looked up bumpers in WRF and none seems to be relevant. Not being able to discern what Wilson is thinking of as bumpers might have exacerbated my perplexity.

Thank you
 
  • Mr.Dent

    Senior Member
    English - all over the USA
    Bumpers are added to the front and rear of a vehicle to protect the body from damage in the event of a collision; in this case travel insurance is serving to protect him from things going wrong on his trip and therefore the image of 'bumpers' is used. Google images of 'bumpers' if you don't understand what I am saying.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. I am still trying to digest the figurative meaning of the word bumper in the context of this . Here are further uses in the subsequent paragraph:

    MF was one of the most important advertising firms of the Internet age. Wilson’s company, Southland Concepts, was just a one-man outfit based in Birmingham. Such chances as this didn’t come around twice, which made a bumper vital. That was why he arrived at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport at 4: 00 a.m. for a 6: 00 a.m. nonstop.
    The flight would put him into LaGuardia at nine twenty. His meeting –actually an audition audition –was scheduled for two thirty. A five-hour bumper seemed travel insurance enough.
     

    joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    This is a different context and different meaning. Here, given the times (9:20 arrival, 2:30 p.m. meeting) it means he has five hours as a bumper/insurance to arrive at the meeting on time.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. I am still chewing it down.

    Actually, the second quoted paragraph follows the first one.

    In other words , the travel insurance is thought of a bumper as a guard against missing or damaged accompanying luggage.

    The once in a life time audition presentation opportunity is thought of as vital bumper to guard against losing this business prospect.

    The 5 hour travelling time is a bumper (time buffer) to guard against missing his appointment.

    Is this the correct interpretation ?

    Thank you.
     

    joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    The way I read it, only the first and third of your interpretations is correct.

    The second one (I assume you are referring to the one where he says, "Such chances as this didn’t come around twice, which made a bumper vital.") - means this audition opportunity is so important that it is vital to plan the extra time - to have the "bumper" of extra time.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. Now I got your correct interpretation for the second instance.

    Further on in the novella, there is a 4th occurance of the word bumper. Here's the extract:

    Things didn’t start going wrong until the plane, which took off on time, reached New York. There it took its place in an overhead traffic jam, circling and pogoing in gray air over that point of arrival the pilots so rightly called LaGarbage. There were not-so-funny jokes and outright complaints, but Wilson remained serene. His travel insurance was in place; his bumper was thick.

    I interpret it as his travel plan is safe as he has built in more than enough extra time.

    Thank you again.
     
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