Archive for August, 2013

He Let Me In, But I Told Him Where to Go Anyway

August 20th, 2013 Comments off

Traffic was bad, real bad.  Although it was fresh for me, for others it had been going on for a while.  Everyone’s frustration was clear – even through tinted windows.  I had to merge, so I signaled and attempted to enter the lane.  I wasn’t interested in flying past every car I could until the lane ended, as many others do.  That would have just frustrated people even more.

As I was trying to enter the lane, the car beside me hugged the bumper of the car in front of it to send me a clear message that I was not wanted.  I edged up to the next car and the same thing happened. I guess they failed to realize that even if they stop me from going directly in front of them, I’m still going in front, just further along.

A third car pushed up to block me, and suddenly had a change of heart and backed off allowing me space to merge.  What a nice fellow! Once I was directly in front of him and was sure he could see my hand through the back windshield, I gave him a casual wave.  I didn’t know there was a difference between a casual wave and a regular until that day. A regular wave can be described as something the Queen of England would do with all four fingers stretched out together.  A causal wave is when you have your pointing finger extended with the other three lazily bent below or two fingers stretched out with the other two folded down, like the peace sign dude.

I did the two-finger version of the casual wave.

I mentioned England above, and it was no mistake.  The driver that decided to give me space to merge and not let the traffic stop him from being a gentleman was from England.  He seemed immediately agitated. Honking his horn, waving his arms, and yelling.  Oops, what did I do?

He worked his way beside me with his passenger window down.  I had two of my kids with me in the back seat.  I decided to open my window and deescalate the situation if possible, fearing that ignoring it could further provoke him.  He was yelling that I flipped him off.  Having family from England, I quickly realized what the confusion was and interrupted him with a bit of a laugh “Sir, I was waving thanks to you.  We’re in Canada my friend.  We use one finger when we’re not happy here, not two.”

It took a second for it to sink in, but then his anger quickly retracted into embarrassment, then to a genuine apology and went on his way.

I was ten minutes from my home, but a simple hand gesture almost caused an incident.  If I were in England, I may have had a tougher time talking my way out of it.  With that in mind, travel security is not just staying out of the bad areas or not looking like a tourist, its also knowing about the cultural differences of where you are going to ensure you don’t offend anyone.

Oh, and BTW, if you like this blog, don’t give it a ‘thumbs up’ if you are in Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, some parts of Italy and Greece as it sends the same message as two fingers does in England.

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