Three bin men (Waste Disposal Operatives) in a truck, gave way to me as I drove home today. I thanked them with a thumbs up. A thumbs up. A real, enthusiastic thumbs up. Not just a flick of the thumb but a stiff, vertical thumb, thrust towards my windscreen – it wasn’t a thank-you-thumb, it was a thumb that said ‘Nice one, lads. Keep up the good work’.

If it were, for example, a middle aged woman – I would never give the same thumbs up. I wouldn’t even consider my thumb at all. Instead, I imagine I’d quif the steering wheel with my fingers – leaving my thumb out of sight. Reserved for specific situations.

Sometimes, especially if it is someone about my age, I don’t even acknowledge their kindness. Unless, of course, it’s a very attractive lady person. In that case, I run through every possible way to show appreciation for a “giving way” – I panic and either duck behind the dashboard or do them all, in some kind of gesture variety performance: Thumb flick, thumbs up, double thumbs, thumbs down?! Flash the headlights, wave, smile, finger flick and nod.

There’s a flipside too. When I give way to others, I glare, scratching their retinas with my eyes, waiting for their decision, hoping for something original, like pulling tongues. I don’t glare really, I merely glance, sometimes I get confused and end up thanking them! It’s such an awkward, unexplained part of driving. They’re should be a guide:

Waste Disposal Operatives – Big thumbs up.
Man/woman in suit – Raise index finger from steering wheel (almost as if to point at them).
Neighbour – Anything goes depending on mood. Ideally, a wave and smile.
Muscular man in 4×4 – Look down and speed up.
Just because somebody is in an identical car to yours, it doesn’t mean you have bonded – a thumb, nod, index finger or full extension of the fingers at the top of steering wheel, will do just fine.

I’m tired of it all and I haven’t even been driving for a year yet. I’m just not cool enough to know exactly what gesture, to give what person, at what time. To play it safe, next vehicle to give way is getting the finger – nobody’s perfect and I bet everybody, especially people who drive, deserve the finger now and then.

There’s a scene in Gran Torino when Clint Eastwood get’s a shave from his barber. He does it simply because he’s never done it before. There are two reasons he’s never done it before; one, he is not a Soprano and two, nobody ever gets a shave from the barbers!

Well, when I make generalisations like this, I am usually assuming everybody in the world is like me. Of course, some people would prefer an Italian looking Englishman, deleting their facial hair with a cutthroat razor – to Mach 3-ing it off in the bathroom sink themselves . Me? I’m nervous enough about the haircut.
The barber’s is, at times, an intimidating place to be. Especially if you’re not a frequent visitor. Frequent visitors are usually men who have a strict limit on the length of their skinhead, like some kind of urban monks:
For example, I imagine Mr Ross Kemp (left) thinks Mr Fuzzy Head (below) is less manly because his hair has grew over the standard length. I remember feeling less human when I coloured outside the lines in infant school. I wonder if this is the same sort of feeling.
….actually, to be fair, that vest
isn’t doing Fuzzy Head any favours
in the manly department.
Frequent visitors establish a relationship with the barber. I’ve seen skinheads having full conversations about the barber’s children and vice versa.
It shouldn’t be but a haircut is an ordeal for me, being a non-frequent visitor, a once-every-couple-of-months visitor. I sit there pretending to read the free newspapers, quarrying my mind for potential conversation starters before it’s my turn in the chair.
Will he remember me? Even if he does, what did we talk about last time that got us through this necessary evil? Will he make a comment about my quif again? That seemed to take up a minute or two last time. Shall I mention my double-crown? Do I tip a barber? What’s the etiquette? I tip cabbies and I’m not even sure if they deserve it. Yes, he shall have a tip, the silent haircut must have been awkward for him too. It’s the least I can do. Will he find this odd? I don’t know! God I’m pathetic.
In conclusion I am much, much more comfortable visiting the dentist.
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