light language

where i come from when you’re driving down the road and you are trying to switch lanes or make a turn across several lanes of traffic or even make a u-turn it’s not uncommon for someone to flash their lights at you. and that flash of headlight has always been – at least to me – goodwill towards fellow man in action. that gentle flash means please turn in front of me, there is plenty of room and if there isn’t, well, i don’t mind slowing down one bit because the world really is a beautiful place.

it reminds me that people really are good.

they really do want to help.

and they care.

they do.

so picture this, i’m waiting to make a u-turn – cuz you cannot get from point a to point b here without making at least one u-turn – the traffic is somewhat heavy, but i finally get an opening. and this black truck flashes his headlights at me. so naturally, whatever hesitation i might have been feeling evaporated and was replaced with the all to familiar sense of peace and love and everything being right with the world. confidently, i make my u-turn. now, i don’t end up in the same lane as this lovely man but all the same i appreciate his generosity. imagine my suprise when a few seconds later (because this guy wasn’t really all that close and i didn’t need his stinkin’ headlight flash to tell me i could go) this guy pulls up beside me and shoots the finger at me, yes, that finger, the naughty finger. and he doesn’t just shoot it he waves it all around, crazy like. and he’s yelling. and even though my window is up and his window is up i’m pretty sure i can hear what he is saying. cuz he’s mad. like rabid dog mad. and he continues this behavior more than a few seconds and has me scared and confused. all sense of normalcy has now been thrown out the window (well, not really, because if i’d been able to throw something out my window he’d’ve been able to throw something in my window and probably would have.) and this is how i was introduced to the harsh reality that things are different here and not everything is different good some of it is different b.a.d. i have discovered that the headlight flash means something totally different here. it means something more along the lines of stay where you are and don’t even think of turning in front of me because i own this lane – this entire lane from here to infinity – and if you do i will make you so sorry you messed with me. no really, that’s what it seems to mean here. and my experience with this has left me trusting my fellow driver a little lot less.

9 thoughts on “light language

  1. I am laughing at your pain. I’m sorry.

    I never heard of the flashing thing here in NY…but all drivers are aggressive here.

    It used to be “don’t flash your lights at anyone because you never know if they are a gang and they will turn around and kill you”…

    Yeah, so I pretty much stay away from the flash.

  2. Thanks for the comment on my blog!!! I feel special. 🙂

    We do the flashing thing for sure here in Indiana. Sorry it turned so traumatic for you!

  3. Oh that’s terrible, but the way you tell the story is very funny. You should compile all your experiences there and write a book.

  4. Funny story. People where I live don’t really flash headlights, but they wave you along. Around here, flashing headlights is part of the brotherhood/sisterhood of driving that menas, “Dude, I just went by a cop back there….slow down.”

  5. The light flash here in NZ means a warning – like, “dood, did you know you’re driving with your lights off, and er, it’s nighttime?” or “There’s a cop back there” or “something just fell off the back of your trailer”.

    So, since it sounds like they also drive on the left and use metric like NZ, maybe they share the “flash = warning” code too.

    Bummer to your lost in translation experience, road rage really bites 😦

  6. there has to be some sort of culture thing we are missing, or he’s just a jerk. unfortunately, they are all over the world. you are funny. yes, i hope you are keeping a journal. weren’t you an english major at one point. you might have found your calling… to write a book about a TEXAN (the other American) IN CHANG MAI. What fun.

  7. I’m sorry, but I laughed out loud reading this story. These are the absurd types of things that people just don’t believe when we tell them. These absurd types of stories are one of the reasons I blog.

    I am too afraid to drive here so I don’t know if they flash to say “ok come on over” in Belarus, but I’m going to find out – just in case I ever decide I want to drive somewhere…lucky for me everything I need on a day to day basis is walking distance from my apartment.

  8. Flashing also has different meanings over here in the UK – a) exposing yourself in public, b) go ahead I am letting you go, c) get the heck out of my way. I enjoyed your post – you might like to read a couple of mine. Stay safe
    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/close-call/

    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/going-nowhere-fast/

    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/crash-bang-wallop/

    mm – thanks for stopping by. oh, i might have not survived if he’d also exposed himself in public while so rudely flashing his lights and waving his naughty finger… tm

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