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Not-so-obscene finger gestures


I was driving — yes, driving — somewhere the other day, and I crested a hill on a lightly traveled road, with a commercial parking lot to my left and a private drive off another parking lot — I think it belonged to a church — on my right.

Just before I reached the driveway, a car rolled through the stop sign to my right, directly in my path. I’d seen the car coming, so it was easy to tap the brakes and avoid a collision, and as I did so, I gave the horn a little honk, not in anger but just to let the offending driver know that I was there and maybe next time she might consider actually stopping before barrelling into traffic. Consider it community service.

The driver seemed surprised as she glanced in her rear-view mirror. Without pause, she raised her right arm to the mirror so it (the arm) would be in plain sight, then slowly, deliberately … flashed a peace sign.

Honestly, it was twice as many fingers as I was expecting.

She smiled with her eyes, let the gesture linger, then turned right at the next intersection; I turned left.

As we parted, I thought, “What a lovely gesture.”

And it was.

I’ll admit I’ve communicated nonverbally several times while I’ve been on my bike, using all manner and number of digits, though I’m a bit ashamed to admit one gesture (and finger) make up the bulk of my sign language. Call it half a peace sign.

In the heat of a moment, it’s too easy to flip the bird. It’s quick and dirty, and it gets the point across. But it also tends to breed a bit of ill-will at least between two people, if not cyclists and drivers in general. I reserve the right to dial up the middle digit to express my displeasure at having my person (and, yes, I do have a person) jeopardized by dolts, especially dolts who are deliberately endangering.

However, I plan to give this peace-sign thing a spin.

The way it was wielded my way the other day bore little resemblance to its hippie-dippy origin. But it spoke volumes. The peace-signee quickly, deftly signalled, “Oops. Sorry. My bad. Please forgive. Have a nice day.” Two fingers, a split-second; ’nuff said.

Peace, man.

I feel better already.


Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

I really appreciate this reminder. With over 100 miles a day driving, I sometimes resort even before thinking to the old, familiar gesture. Mostly, it just gets me riled up while the other person hasn't even seen it.

And sometimes I myself have committed a too-quick turn into another lane of traffic.

Are you familiar with the origin of the bird?


I'm going to try this new gesture when I can remember it. I'll have to employ some "mindfulness" thinking because the other gesture so often comes to mind.

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