Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mixed Signals

The front left blinker on our car isn't working. I don't know how long it's been broken, but I suspect it occurred around the time the rodents attacked our electrical wires. Because the day I picked up our car from the mechanic and turned the blinker to signal left, the clicking sound was going double time.

I realized the blinker wasn't working last week when I was turning left at a four way stop. My blinker was clicking at double time, and it was my turn to go, but the woman in the car across from me gave me a nasty look when I turned. So I inspected the blinker and, sure enough, it's not blinking.

Since I've discovered this defect, I've become a paranoid left-hand turner. Sometimes I try to compensate for the defect by rolling down my window and signaling my intention to turn by hand, like this:

Only, when I signal by hand, I'm not on a bike, and my arm is not so straight and direct. Actually, I'm pretty embarrassed about signaling by hand, an embarrassment which leads me to only roll the window half way down, and to weakly thrust my arm out of the window. This sorry attempt at signaling left doesn't seem to be working.

It's funny, because before, when I didn't know that my left front blinker was broken, I had a lot more confidence when turning. I was blissfully unaware of the fact that my double-time blinker wasn't really signaling anything to anybody. It's a discovery of sorts to find out that the message you were trying to broadcast isn't being sent at all. And it's made me think about other signals we send each other, not when driving, but when communicating, and how at times they can be terribly misread.

For example, when I first moved to London, I became friends with two women in my ward. All three of us confided in each other that we were hoping to become pregnant soon. Shortly after, the first woman announced her pregnancy, and shortly after that I announced mine. But the third woman remained announcement-free. As the months and the pregnancies progressed, I noticed that this third woman seemed a little withdrawn. As me and the other woman happily discussed our pregnancies, her face looked sour and pained. I read her behaviour as evidence that she was saddened that she too was not pregnant. So I avoided talking to her about anything baby-related.

And then, months later, she confessed to us that she was pregnant, almost four months along, but hadn't said anything because she had had some complications and was worried that the pregnancy was not viable. And suddenly, I had to rewrite history and correctly decipher all those signals she had given over the past few months.

There is an older gentleman who lives in the building next to ours who is usually very friendly to us. Lately he has started commenting that he thinks Henry needs more room to run around. I usually smile and concur with this statement. Then, a few weeks ago, he asked me quite bluntly if it isn't time we bought a house yet. I smiled and said nothing, instead of asking him in return if it wasn't time he minded his own business. To put the final nail in the coffin, a few days ago he actually stopped us and told us that he had found a house for rent a few streets over, and strongly urged us to consider renting it.

What is this man trying to signal to us? It is very possible that he is just trying to be kind and helpful. But I have a hard time not interpreting these messages as intrusive and rude. Why does he seem so intent to drive us out of our apartment? Are we annoying neighbors? Or is he sincerely concerned about our welfare? I don't know.

I guess people, like cars, sometimes have faulty wiring. It's not always possible to determine what, exactly, they are trying to signal. All those nasty looks that were cast my way when I thought my left blinker was indicating my intention to turn were cast in vain. Because I DID think I was signaling left. So I guess I should give my neighbor the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's trying to signal left and doesn't know the wiring's disconnected.


sheri said...

k- this is your cousin, saw your blog off Connie's. Hope you don't mind! Your little boy is adorable!! just thought I'd stop by and say hi!

jdm said...

The last time my blinker did that I called the shop about it and the mechanic said that the fast blinking is suppose to be your warning that your light is about to go out. And that it usually just means that you need to get a new one. I don't think that I paid very much at all for mine and I think that I even put it in myself. It was a long time ago. Anyhow that was the problem and the light has worked fine ever since!
Good luck. I hate it when things go wrong with cars.

Oh and tell that neighbor that you would move but you don't think that you could to stand to live so far away from him and his helpful ways! Sheesh, I don't know how I would take that one either. But I can hear Matt now just saying that he is sure he means well. It's almost impossible to offend Matt. But the great thing about the way that he thinks is that he never even bothers to care about any other meanings things may have. He figures that if you say it then its worth thinking about. I need more of that!

Marci said...

I love it! I have a huge problem with crossed wires, what is in my head and heart sometimes comes out of my mouth as a unsignaled left turn ;) Happy Birthday to you today!

Brekke said...

That's funny you signal with your arm. Down here you are lucky if anyone signals. Some people use their arms to signal, but it's always a beat up car that must be having problems, only the driver doesn't know how to signal. Sorry, for the rant. Not signaling is one of my pet peeves. Thank you for trying to make sure your signal gets across.

Stacy & Mike said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! I have left two phone messages for you I have the right number?
Love this post, I think most people have faulty wiring...we can blame it on our parents and their faulty wiring. I am trying to be my own mechanic and fix it before my kids notice.

Kristen said...

Oh what a wonderful neighbor. Sounds to me that his signal is "Your child is running around and I don't want to hear or see him do this. You need to move out of here and let us have more quiet neighbors."

Melisa said...

KIM! I found you through Heather's blog! This is Melisa Roberds. How are you? My blog is private but I would love to hear from you. Send me your e-mail so I can add you to see me blog! Your boy is so cute:)

sarahbclark! said...

interesting comparison! isn't it about time the old man bought a house? at least to get away from neighbors with children? but maybe he honestly thinks he's being helpful. maybe letting him know that you're stuck until your contract is up would deter the comments.
tryouts are tomorrow! i've been watching the auditions from previous season online and it's getting a little intimidating. i guess i just have to clear my head and enjoy the experience!

Vic, Linds, and the girls... said...

I am so sad I missed you when you were here. I wanted to see you and little Henry. Miss you!