Are You the Windshield or the Bug?

20 April 2024

And now, Words and Their Stories, from VOA Learning English.

Life has its ups and downs. We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes life seems easy, sometimes difficult. We can't always feel on top of the world every day.

Today, we explore some idioms and expressions that describe this common condition of life.

FILE - A girl washes dead insects from the windshield of the car. (Photo by goodmoments via Adobe Stock)
FILE - A girl washes dead insects from the windshield of the car. (Photo by goodmoments via Adobe Stock)

A windshield is the transparent screen, usually of glass, on a vehicle. It protects the people inside. But to many insects a windshield can also be a screen of death.

Take a drive in America in the warm months, especially on higher speed roads, and watch as bugs meet their end on the windshield glass.

And that is where we get our first expression: Some days you're the windshield, and some days you're the bug.

On our good days, we reach our goals. We get things done. On those kinds of days, we are taking care of business. We are killing it! On those days we are the windshield.

But then our luck changes. Things don't go our way. We may be down in the dumps or just down on our luck. For whatever reason, we are not at the top of our game. On these days, we are the bugs.

This expression is very informal. So, it is not very serious. Similar expressions include "peaks and valleys." Peaks are high while the valleys are low. You can also say "you win some, you lose some." And sometimes we refer to life as a "rollercoaster ride." Rollercoasters are famous for their high climbs and sharp drops.

Now let's hear two people use some of these expressions in a short conversation.

A: Hey, what's wrong? You look a little down.

B: I just got some bad news from project I'm working on. And things were going so well.

A: Well, you know what my Grandma Gardenia used to say, "Some days you're the windshield and some days you're the bug."

B: Today I'm definitely the bug.

A: I'm sure things will look better tomorrow. Granny Gardenia also used to say, "you win some, you lose some."

B: You know ... you're right. We all go through tough times.

A: That's the spirit! (sighs) Every time I hit a rough patch, Granny Gardenia would say, "Don't let a little setback get you down. Tomorrow is a new day!"

B: Thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate it.

A: Don't thank me. Thank my grandma. It's impossible to be down in the dumps around Granny Gardenia.

The British band Dire Straits has a song about the subject of life's good times and bad. It's called The Bug. The song reminds us that we should enjoy the good times because they are temporary. As the song goes: sometimes you're the windshield/sometimes you're the bug.

Do you have a similar expression in your language? Let us know in the comments section or send us an email at

And that's all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories. Until next time, I'm Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

transparent – adj. transmitting light so that objects lying beyond are entirely visible

dump – n. a disorderly or undesirable place

conversation – n. talking or a talk between two or more people

rough patch – n. a period of problems in your life