And in the old days it seemed like a legitimate manner of expressing your displeasure of the driving skills of the other motorists going down the highway.
Nowadays in the wrong neck-of-the-woods it just might get you shot. But you’ll at least know why.
How about when you travel to foreign lands and you don’t even realize that simple hand gestures or body position could be highly offensive and just might get you shot. And you’ll never even know why it happened.
Business and government folks are often schooled in what gestures are appropriate and which one might very well cause an international incident.
Non-verbal communication when traveling can be dangerous, but it can also be a primary form of dealing with a language difference.
Many of us have assumed that if we combine a few words of a foreign tongue along with a qualified attempt at charades, if we are lucky, we may just get directed to our intended destination.
One evening while having a quiet dinner at a simple outdoor restaurant in a small Mexican town in Baja, a group of what appeared to be local adults with their kids where dining at a table next to ours. The group was clearly enjoying each other’s company and one woman broke out in song. We glanced over and nodded with approval.
A gentleman in their party looked our way, smiled and tipped his ball cap off and held it out our way as if seeking donations for the woman’s impromptu performance.
They smiled–we smiled–and in that brief encounter it was pretty clear what each was thinking; without a word being spoken.
In travel simple things–a nod, a smile, a open hand, a wave–often helps bridge a language difference.
And it may even keep you from getting shot.