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THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Speaking with our horns


Al Gilkes

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Speaking with our horns

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I am a professional communicator and with the spoken word I communicate both over the traditional telephone and mobile phone and via various Internet options such as MagicJack.
Time was when a letter, handwritten or typewritten, was the main vehicle by which I communicated with the written word. Everything from love letters to legal transcripts were sealed in envelopes and sent off by land, air or sea from St Michael to St Lucy or from St Andrew to New Zealand.
The letter has all but become a dinosaur today, thanks to modern technology that delivers the written word by almost the speed of light via email, text message, BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp and various other applications, using both the computer and the mobile phone.
Added to the ongoing transformation of personal communications is the fact that with the use of a computer and a newer cellphone, I can now also use the spoken word to chat face to face around the world with applications such as Skype and BlackBerry Messenger.
Out of necessity, custom and tradition, other people use both conventional and unconventional methods in order to communicate, such as the drum.
However, it was only while driving to work recently that I realised that almost everybody uses another means of communication all day long without recognising that by doing so we are in fact communicating with each other.
I am talking about our vehicle horns.
I was on Hinds Hill waiting for the traffic light to turn from red to green so I could turn to go down University Hill when I was abruptly aroused from some distraction by the person behind beeping on his/her horn to tell me “the light changed”. I looked up, saw that it had and immediately moved off.
As I joined other vehicles snaking down the hill to the second set of traffic lights at the West Terrace junction, a truck driver was trying to get out from the Wanstead junction to join my lane before the two lanes of traffic speeding uphill could cut him off. So I slowed down, created some space in front and beeped twice to tell him “come across fast”. He did and as he straightened up in the line he gave me a single beep to say “thanks”.
But what really made me fully aware of how seriously we drivers communicate with our horns was when I passed the third set of traffic lights at the University of the West Indies entrance, only to find that a ZR driver who had sped across from the bus lane, was dead-stopping in front of me to collect a passenger.
I was red as I not only slammed on my brakes to avoid running into his back, but also jammed my horn as hard as I could with an extended sentence of the best language I could find. “You. . .! What the. . .you doing? You could only be a. . .or two!”
And I didn’t stop there because when I veered off and around him to where I could see his ugly screwed-up face, I blasted him with the horn again: “Yuh. . . idiot. You could only want a hard lash in your foolish. . .” Would you believe that despite being in the wrong, the man went on his horn and cursed me back with “. . . muh . . .”?
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.

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