Thursday, September 6, 2012

Signalling Your Intentions

As I was driving to work this morning, a zippy, flashy Mustang cut in front of me and forced me to slam on my brakes in order to not slam into the back of his 'look-at-me' car. Though it shames me to admit it, I did a very accurate impression of a pissed off sailor and contemplated flipping him the bird when I sailed past a couple minutes later. Okay, so I restrained myself. That time. But when he cut me off near the Gaglardi exit, I switched lanes, sped up, and gave him the middle finger.

For a moment, I was satisfied, then I just felt silly. I mean, I have such small hands. No one takes my middle finger seriously. It's sad and pathetic, not intimidating. Still, the size of my finger doesn't discount the emotion behind the gesture. I was angry. Not because he wanted to get in front of me. No, I love to let people in. But he didn't use his bloody blinker!

We have turn signals for a reason. To let the people around us know what the hell we are about to do. Otherwise it's just madness on the roads. Could you imagine if no one used their flashers? It would be utter mayhem. Which makes me wonder why people think they don't need to signal their intentions. After all, it helps keep us all safe, prevents car accidents, and, last time I checked, is the law. I can't imagine these buffoons want people to rear-end them, but what do I know? Maybe there is an elite squadron of morons who enjoy being rammed from behind. (Oh, don't be dirty. You know what I mean)

By this healthy little rant, you can probably guess that I'm an advocate of the turn signal. I like it. And I use mine. I lead by example. Not only do I use my blinker, but I even use it when there is no one else on the road. That's how dedicated I am. Some people rarely use their signal, and when they do it's always at the last second. You need to give ample warning, so the drivers around you have time to react. One blink does not a proper merge make.

Yes, I understand there are a lot of people out there who don't pay attention to your flashing light or who speed up when they see it, but that doesn't mean you need to act like an idiot too. Try not to stoop. It isn't like using your blinker is hard. It's right there, near your left hand, hanging out. If you can turn a light switch on, you can use your turn signal. There really is no excuse not to use it, other than being an ignorant, self-centred, fool who thinks the world is looking out for you and your haphazard ways.

After the Mustang got off at Kensington, I took a couple calming breaths and started thinking about our own personal blinkers. No, not the ones on our cars. The ones on us. Our words.

Now, I imagine some of you are like, what the heck is this crazy lady talking about?

It's actually very simple.

Every day of our lives, we cruise along, lost in our own worlds, surrounded by other people. We drive our vehicles, our bodies, from place to place, and while our main concern is our own safety and getting to our destinations, we need to understand that our actions directly influence the other people travelling with us. And our travelling companions are more vast than we might realize.

Friends. Family. Lovers. Co-Workers. People standing in line at Starbucks waiting to order their Latte Frappie Crappo. Whether it is for a couple minutes, a week, two months, or lifelong, they are riding with us. And it is our responsibility to ensure that they are aware of our intentions. So, we have to use our signals. In this rather genius metaphor, our turn signals, what lets the people we interact with on a daily basis know what we are up to, are our words. Yep, words. They are our flashes, blinkers, turn signals. They let other people know whether we are going to change their travel plans.

Whether we are talking to our parents, telling them we aren't going to home for the holidays; a friend, letting them know we're upset over something they said; our sidekicks, notifying them of our deepest affections; or the person in line at Starbucks waiting on their Latte Frappie Crappo, telling them your order is kind of big and that you're going to take a few seconds. We are signalling our intentions. We are keeping them in the know and not blind siding them by our actions.

Our words act as a type of safety feature. Sure, they can be counter productive, much like when someone forgets to turn their blinker off, or has a burnt out tail light. But we have them for a reason. And I cannot stress the importance of letting people know our intentions. Use those blinkers, flashers and hand signals. Use your words. Talk it out. Be considerate.

You know, I thought this was a pretty clever observation at four thirty in the morning on a Thursday. Now, I'm not so sure.

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