“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” – Indira Gandhi

Bad news.  Apparently the middle finger is making a comeback.  Over the last few months, I have been flicked off twice while driving by people in other cars.  Twice!

The first time, I had slowed down momentarily under an overpass to make sure that we (The Family Glass) were going to make a turn.  The person in the car behind me accelerated to get around me and casually gave the one-finger salute as he passed us.  The second time was a much more heinous display of uncivilized behavior.

It was my birthday last weekend and we were on our way back from the Lego Americana exhibit when we saw a dead beaver by the median of a stretch of business route in a small town.  Holland and I had never seen a real live beaver before (I guess we still haven’t) and I looped back so that we could see it.  There wasn’t any traffic coming from behind us so I stopped and put my flashers on so we could take a look at this sizeable rodent.  After fifteen seconds or so I noticed traffic was coming so I sped back up.  A car came flying up on us and almost hit our car (really unnecessary considering the highly-visible color, size, and speed of our car).

Whatever.  It happens, right?  Let’s get on with our lives.

Nope.  It didn’t end there.  We got to the next light and the car that had almost hit us was now in front of us.  The light turned green and the driver put their flashers on.  Huh, I thought, maybe their car died.  After several seconds, I tried to get around them and they took off.  That was weird, I thought.

Whatever.  It happens, right?  Let’s get on with our lives.

Nope.  It didn’t end there either.  The proceeded to do the same exact thing at the next light.  By then I realized that they were doing this to spite me for being pulled over with my flashers on.  I accelerated and changed lanes because they were turning and as I drove by, (wouldn’t you know it?) the passenger flicked me off!

Now no part of this on its own was that big of a deal, but who would go through all of the trouble to mess with me at two lights then give me the bird?  This was maybe over a half-mile stretch of business highway in the sort-of-middle of nowhere.  Needless to say, we were appalled.

I thought back over the past several years and I can’t remember a single time that I’ve had the bird shot at me.  I am by no means a bad driver.  On the contrary, I’m easily one of the best drivers I know.  And while I can occasionally be a jerk, on and off the road, it’s apparently never been bad enough to warrant the ole Bronx Salute.  So either I’ve changed in some way (none but for the better) or the dirty third finger is back.

The display of the middle finger as an offensive gesture originated in Ancient Greece (not in the middle ages) with the finger representing the phallus with, as you can imagine, multiple sexual suggestions.  It is believed that the digitus impudicus made its way to the United States in the late 1800s and was first photographed in 1886.  In the picture below, you’ll see Boston Beaneaters’ pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn shooting it to the camera.

The gesture has more or less retained its meaning to this day.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just getting old.  I know that there are a bunch of pictures of me displaying my shameless finger (that sounds really bad) when I was much younger, but it just seems like a really dumb thing to do.  I feel like 10-15 years ago, flipping the bird was a very common thing to do.  But, like I said, I can’t really remembering seeing it very often if it all since then.

Here’s my point:

We’re better than that.  You shouldn’t go around showing people any of your indecent digits.  The message suggested by the middle finger is a disgusting one and one that I would never want displayed to my wife and daughter and I’m sure most of you feel the same way.  So keep it in your hand pants.

Here is a list of other things you can do with your hands if you’re really that mad:

1. Wave!

2. Give a thumbs-up

3. Keep your hands on the wheel

4.  I don’t know, squeeze a stress ball?

There’s a bigger message here, too.  When you allow someone to make you angry, you give them control of yourself.  I know it can be hard to just let stuff go, especially if you’re not used to doing it, but you’ve got to try.  Opening the door to negativity allows other negativity to seep into your life.  You can’t change the world, but you change the way you react to it.  Say a little prayer for the person who is making you mad.  Wish the best for them so that positivity might spread through their life and yours.

If we can start a cycle of positive thoughts and actions and stop this foolishness, it may not fix everything that’s wrong around us, but it will clear the air around us enough to let us breathe and focus on what matters.  Let’s give it a try

Wishing you well,

D. Glass

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