Wednesday, August 25, 2010


What the hell is it with outlandish “Hand Signals” and drivers who make them up?

Last night Tom and I were at a four way stop in Orillia. First of all these four way stops- in Orillia at least, need to be outlawed. Nobody understands the damn things- especially our Senior population.

A driver must pay attention at these stops. If other vehicles are approaching the intersection, as a driver, you have to remember “who’s on first”!
Whoever (whomever?) is on first, gets to go first. If two vehicles approach at the exact same moment in time- this happens constantly in Orillia by the way, the vehicle on the right proceeds first.

So using hand signals?
Not the variety one uses on a bicycle for left and right turns or slowing down, I mean the “funny” hand gestures a fellow driver makes towards you when you come to an intersection such as a four way stop. So, last night this lady in a van is actually stopped at the intersection before we come to a complete stop. She’s on our right. She should go first. There are no other cars are in sight.

We sit and wait for her to continue through the intersection or at the very least turn left or right. Being as it is the City of Orillia we wouldn’t have been surprised if she had decided to back up away from the intersection or pull a U Turn. One never knows.
It’s Orillia after all!

As we patiently wait our turn, a few seconds go by.

Then, all of a sudden she starts to furiously wave her left hand out the driver’s side window in perhaps what I would describe as a simple circular motion. She does this a few times.
We think- “What the hell?”
Then she makes the circular motion again, only this time she ads a kind of forward overhand motion with her hands like she was shooing rabbits away from her carrot patch.
“Whuck?”- we say.
Then she takes both hand movements and combines them.

First she waves her left hand out the window as if it’s a “go away” forward circular motion.
Are you following this?
I can’t send you to U Tube for the video because there isn’t one!
Then she adds both her right and left hand into the translation.

We just sit on our side of the intersection watching and wondering.

The second movement is a forward sweeping motion as before but this time with two hands. So, we have this forward kind of “go away” motion using both left and right hands as well as a “sweeping away” motion as she throws her hands away from her chest towards her dashboard and van window. She really is trying her best to make us understand. Of course, it would have been easier for her to just yell out the window telling us what she expected us to do.

We looked back and forth at one another and I said-
“I guess she wants us to go through!”
Tom agrees.
So we do-
We are smiling broadly as we pass by her white van.
Ok, we are laughing out loud at this point because her hand movements were quite funny and way over the top.

With this type of hand communication, how were we to know she wasn’t about to change her mind an instant. She may have driven through the intersection bumping into us leaving a fair-sized dent in the side of the van. We looked back, once we were safely through the intersection, to see her van still pausing for a few moments more.
Then, it appeared that she drove through the intersection.
Now we understood.
That was the “forward over hand” motion was all about. It meant-
“I am going through!”

That would mean the first hand movements, the “circular go away motion” was what we just accomplished! We drove through the intersection to the other side just like the chicken who crossed the road.
Thank goodness we didn’t lay an egg on that one.

In hindsight, we probably saved a lot of time since another car hadn’t approached the four way stop along with us or the entire process could have become quite involved- and lengthy.

Advice: Avoid four way stops if you are in a hurry or have difficulty deciphering hand signals.

Have a good one!