I am becoming tired of documenting the Obama administration’s slide toward fascism,* of straightening out liberals’ twisted arguments, of trying to install missing software in libertarians’ mental computers. I need a break. So, I am giving myself a little time off to consider a small but growing local problem. And to seek help from readers.
* I use the word fascism carefully, not as an all-around insult. I don’t think the Democratic Party is a fascist organization. I think it has its fascist strand.
In California, new laws and/or the re-interpretation of old laws have been making drivers more conscious of their obligation to give way to pedestrians.
Generally, they do but not as graciously as I would like them to. I get to cross many streets on foot because I live downtown and because I think walking is good for me. (It’s good for you too.) Upwards of 80% I would estimate, of all drivers who stop to let me pass make an impatient gesture with four fingers of their right hand, more or less, the way you would shoo a sheep.
In universal sigh language, the gesture means pretty much, ” Move on , go on; I don’t have all day.” Taken literally, it would induce the obliged pedestrian to run across the street. It implies that the driver’s haste is more important in the grand scheme of things than the pedestrian’s ease. Every gum-chewing red-neck girl with a cheap push-up bra thus gets to treat me at the crossroad the way a duchess used to treat the peasantry.
It’s intolerable, of course, but what to do? The whole thing goes too fast for words. What’s needed is a gesture in return. Unfortunately, the most obvious gesture are already taken and pretty much reserved for incidents between drivers. The first involves the raised middle- finger of the right hand. It implies unpleasant penetration on a modest scale. It’s a northern gesture. The second is found only but everywhere around the Med. It’s done with the left hand hitting the crook of the bent right elbow, the combination moving upward to head level. It signifies massive bodily penetration. (Personally, I think it’s almost always an over-statement.)
So, I am looking for a different hand gesture to devise and popularize, one visible from any driver’s seat. It will be a self gesture that means:
” My time is as valuable as yours. If your time is so valuable, why don’t you get up earlier, anyway, you lazy A.H.? If you knew how to read a watch, you would know that it always takes you 20 minutes, not 15, to get from your house to your temp job. If you got off your beat-up car or your pickup truck, your ass and your thighs wouldn’t be so fat. Keep rushing across intersections, and a cop will get you at the next speed trap. I hope it will cost you $379. ”
And so forth….
I think it would be best if it were a one- handed gesture, a sober gesture, in other words. I don’t want to appear an extremist. Got any idea?
UPDATE 6/6/13 I may have found a response thanks in large part to the false leads and quite unsatisfactory suggestions given by friends and enemies alike in the Comment section of this posting. (I am sorry, I call them as I see them.) I have tried some of those in the street without eliciting much interest. As is often the case, trying out the wrong solution directs one to the right solution – or to the almost right solution.
My own one-hand restriction was too restrictive. Instead, I have experimented with stopping dead in the street, turning frontally toward the driver and addressing to him/her a double military salute. I mean a salute with both hands at once. The theory here is that the driver recognizes the derision implicit in a military salute out of context but the two handedness draws attention to the gross absurdity of his/ her behavior at the wheel. I suspect without affirming it that the step from realizing absurdity to understanding one’s incivility is a small one.
The gesture I propose has one obvious drawback. It forces one to deposit a package on the ground in the middle of the street or to let go of a small child’s hand. I have to work on the details but still, it’s a step, albeit a small step, in fighting the incipient authoritarianism at the wheel of otherwise nice people.
Update 7/13: My two-handed signal works. I would call it a small manifestation of communication near-genius if I had not designed it myself. Alas, it won’t do for most people most of the time because so many carry something in one hand or hold a child, or a dog leash. Back to square one.