MB follows and reads the posts of a number of bloggers of varying hues and colours. Amongst them is a blog called This, That & The Other Thing. Author Janet posted a short account earlier today called Go Ahead, Give ’em The Finger and it got MB to thinking.
Janet’s accounts refers to certain areas of rural USA where farming or country dwellers might raise their index finger from the steering wheel as a greeting to other drivers on the sparsely populated roads. Inhabitants of rural Ireland will be familiar with the exact same gesture. And indeed, MB has often received the same greetings from Pakistani, Indian, Arab and other drivers in the Middle East (ME). So the index finger action is pretty much a global gesture of acknowledgement to another human being. A gesture of ones humanity to another. Hello anonymous friend, stay safe, have a good journey, may you reach your destination – all encompassed in the split-second reflex gesture of raising a finger.
Whilst MB has acknowledged that he has received the raised index finger in the Middle East, he must add that it has always been in quieter rural areas of little traffic, when cars or vans might be slow moving, slow enough for MB’s eye to catch momentarily the eye of an oncoming driver. But it does not happen in towns and cities. For good reason.
Giving the finger, as its referred to in many countries, normally means the gesture of insult of showing the back of the raised middle finger to another. It has many other names in different localities. Flipping the bird, the one-finger salute, or as MB discovered earlier today on looking up the fact – ‘the Trudeau salute’ in Canada, which MB presumes is named after the politician of same name.
And whilst in most areas of the world flipping the bird may be exchanged between over-excited drivers, nothing much else happens. People calm down moments later, they move on and life continues. But not so in the ME, where flipping the bird is considered grossly offensive and will result in a fine, imprisonment and deportation upon release, if the gesture is reported to the police. And should the recipient of the gesture of be a local Arab, then the chances are quite high that the driver will reach for his phone and hit 999. Moments later the police arrive, and the more-often-than-not Western culprit is hauled off to a local jail to face a court case. MB kids you not. And because of the severity of the punishment nobody will of course risk raising the index finger in friendly greeting a lá Janet’s account, lest it be mistaken for the digit next door – the middle ‘bird flipping’ one.
There are numerous stories in the countries of the ME that MB has lived in that confirm the truth of MB’s assertion. One prominent recent case in Dubai involved an Irish expat, who really should have known better. The Irish community even raised a petition to try to support the guy in his hour of need. But despite his good deeds of the past in the Emirate, he was shown no mercy. Take a read: http://www.thejournal.ie/dubai-deported-1463358-May2014/
So Mrs Janet. In rural Nebraska, or South Dakota or Wyoming, flip the index finger to your hearts content, or even flip the bird on occasion should life cause you reason to do so. But for God sake, should you ever visit the Middle East, please keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel, or in the pockets of the Armani jeans that you just acquired in the Dubai Mall. Nod your head a little by way of greeting an Arab if you must, and move right along. And all will be well with your world.
No, not those kind of birds: