The finger, or giving the middle finger, or flipping someone off – whatever term you choose to use - for me is the most disrespectful form of communication, or lack thereof, in our society. That you cannot form the words to maturely express your content with a person or issue is, if anything, a form of stupidity and weakness. A person doesn’t advance the conflict to a resolution, but diminishes it to a tribal obscenity not worth the response the action demands.
The middle finger gesture communicates extreme contempt, and is roughly equivalent in its meaning to "f*&^ off," "f%$# you," "shove it up you’re a@#," "up yours," or "go f!@% yourself." I suppose for the simpleton incapable of uttering these few words together, a middle finger suffices.
But I digress.
I want to recap two recent events where I was the victim of the wrath of Finger Nation and express honestly how both made me feel.
The first was several months ago while driving to work on a beautiful sunny day in Autumn. I don’t have to tell you how one’s heart rate can elevate while trying to navigate through the city streets of Massachusetts attempting to arrive at a destination on time. One such occurrence had me and a woman in an SUV vying for the same spot in a merged lane. The Pauli exclusion principle states that “two identical fermions (particles with half-integer spin) cannot occupy the same quantum state simultaneously.” A concept that is lost on the Bay State driver.
Upon winning the coveted spot – the woman rolled down her window, yelled “nigger bitch” and gave me the finger. My first reaction was to laugh, because I found it absolutely insane that the fact that she was one car length in front would subject me to such a vile response. But I went on with my day and until the next incident, forgot all about it.
The second incident happened approximately 2 weeks later. A co-worker heated up scallops in the office microwave, which anyone knows is the WORST smell to have to work in (minus the obvious from the bathroom). Several people in the office commented on the odor and then by 5pm, it and we were all gone – and the issue – like the odor – was over.
Or so I thought.
The next morning, a different co-worker went to microwave his muffin and commented on the smell coming from inside. I jokingly replied, “you mean you didn’t want a scallop-flavored muffin?” My supervisor jumped in and began berating the ‘scallop bandit’ for defiling our nostrils and threatened to implement a ‘no-fish-in-microwave’ policy for the office. The two argued back and forth for several minutes until I interjected to calm the hot heads.
I went to the ‘scalloper-on-trial’ and offered her a hug to help calm her rattled nerves. She continued to yell a bit. I expressed my apology for making the joke that caused the ‘Scallop War’ and she turned to me and gave me the finger.
I was shocked.
I asked her, “are you really giving ME the finger?” And she replied, yes. I asked again, “are you really doing this to me?” No answer.
I felt hurt and confused. I didn’t feel I was mean or contemptuous in my humor, but I, not my supervisor or any of the other plaintiffs, was the sole recipient of this cruelty. Even in the midst of my submission with the offer of a friendly embrace did I ever imagine a response of that nature. It was, as simply as I can state, mean.
My Christian faith teaches me to forgive. And I can honestly say I have and apparently, she has, too, for her, my supervisor, and all the other members of ‘Scallop-gate’ have made up and are better friends than ever. But I must wonder, where is my apology?
Living in a finger-less nation is something we should all strive for. I hope I don't stand alone.
We have 5 fingers instead of 6! If we were to have an equal amount of digits on each hand - then the action of "giving the middle finger" would be non-existent - although one would come up with another way of insulting through gestures. After all - unfortunately - we have many!
Too quote one of the most famous victims of brutality, “can we all just get along?”
If my actions, overt – subtle - or otherwise - deduces one to the barbaric response of a racial slur and a finger, then perhaps I should look inward and change my behavior which is causing such a response - although, in the case of the car-length-in-front woman, I doubt anything would have kept her from coming up with an excuse to be a racist. However, I’m willing to do my part to communicate better, for I, too, want to exist in a more perfect world than the one that can ruin a smile on a sunny day in an instant.
And I hope to NOT stand alone.