Sign (of the times) Language



When I was a little girl, my mother had read somewhere ( in The Christian Science Monitor, I’m guessing) that in order to clue in those clueless drivers who’d left their directional signal blinking for miles and miles and miles,  passengers in cars passing these witless drivers should make a Soon-To-Be-Universally-Understood hand gesture as we passed by—rapidly opening and closing our hands, as I recall.  My brother Paul and I took this car-to-car communication to heart; whenever the occasion arose, there we’d be, noses against our car window, eagerly and enthusiastically signaling.

Trouble was, NO one else had read that article.  No one. So after a few, fruitless weeks,  Paul and I finally gave up. (And, perhaps, came a little closer to understanding that what was True and Real and A Good Idea in our family wasn’t necessarily universally shared.)

Several times this past week,  I’ve wished for a gesture equivalent to the instantly and universally understood thumbs up sign in order to convey “You have every right to be here.”

Who would I “say” this to? For openers, to every greater-Boston Muslim I’ve encountered since the Marathon bombing. A wary, shutdown bunch these days, Muslim women especially—or so I believe I have observed.

And I would have liked to convey this same message to that young man with the double stroller on a crowded # 1 bus Saturday morning when people huffily made A BIG Deal getting past him/it.

Unfortunately, there is no universally-understood sign to convey this much-needed message—although smiling comes close. How to make “You have every right to be here.” more explicit? Something to ponder.



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