By Craig Funston
Behold the lowly blinker: A hundred years ago, no self-respecting carriage driver would leave home, er, stable, without it. His or her team of horses wore them everywhere. Blinkers were more than the thing to wear: They were the latest technique to keep the horses focused and undistracted in the public highways and bi-ways.
(I’m wondering if some of our unfocused and distracted drivers today could use something like these?)
Today, there are blinkers, to be sure, but they are a little different: A blinker is a little stick on the left-hand side of the steering column. Said stick is flicked either up or down (for a right or left turn, respectively), telling drivers coming to you or behind you that you are shifting lanes or turning.
That’s the theory anyway. I’m just not sure how many drivers know that. Many do, I’m sure, but in the main, I have had so many near-misses because the driver coming to me or in front of me failed to warn me (a little stronger than “told” me) of his/her intentions.
I have no figures in front of me as to how many accidents or deaths have been caused by blinkerlessness (not a real word, Maurice) drivers. Maybe “clueless” is a better word.
A case in point is a recent visit from my wife’s sister and her family. They were cut off by some clown as they drove through Fort Macleod. No reflection on the town itself, of course It could happen anywhere, by anyone, at anytime.
My brother-in-law was able to slam on the brakes just before they all became another highway statistic.
Blinkers are a metaphor for good communication skills. I’m sure you’ve gathered that by now. Simply put, if you are changing courses (lanes), or if you’re heading in a different direction (any point of the compass), it’s a matter of simple courtesy to let people know what you’re doing.
I took my driver’s test forty-six years ago, so I can’t remember any instruction along this line. But beyond rules, there is this common feature that, well, isn’t very common anymore, namely, common sense.
If you’re changing lanes or making abrupt turns, let people know well in advance. The same holds true for communicating in life: If you’re changing a lifestyle course or moving in a different direction, don’t spring it on those near and dear to you—let them know well in advance of your intentions.
Not doing so is rude, inconsiderate, and insensitive. And how many “accidents” could have been prevented in your marriage, family life, neighbourhood, job site, and other place where you could “collide,” if you had simply put on your verbal blinker.
One of the most common quirks I have noticed over the years is how short the flicker of the blinker is getting. In other words, people flick it on, then off, in a matter seconds.
It’s almost like they want to indicate as quickly as possible, then get it over with. Apply that to communication and I’m sure you’ll see where I’m going with this. For some reason, an abrupt answer here or a pithy announcement there is sufficient communication, but it’s not.
That may work with cars, but we’re actually humans and we operate differently.
Just remember that next time you want to change directions or make a move, let people know well in advance. You never know what accident you might prevent.