As a kid, I was taught that pointing was rude. Extremely rude.
I work as a delivery driver for a sandwich shop and was making the last drop of my shift, a single lunch, to a high-end orthopedic center that had its own concierge desk. The air was thick with pretension.
She saw me coming in through the automatic doors and started toward me.
“May I help you?” she demanded rather than asked.
“I have a delivery for someone” I replied.
She tried to wrestle the bag out of my hand.
“Well, who is it for? Does it have a last name? A suite number? A telephone number? I will deliver this; you are free to go” and she dismissed me before she really even saw me.
“Uh, actually, I need a signature.” I said.
“I’ll go find her, wait right here” she said before she huffed off.
Many, many, many minutes later, she returned with a “She will see you now” and a slight flick of the wrist, which I’m assuming was some sort of wave.
I followed the woman until we were about 10 feet away from three cubicles, two of which were empty. I turned around only to see the glare of the face from the front desk looking at me like “Well? What are you waiting for?”
I took a few steps toward the only occupied desk and stood quietly for a moment before this woman who had ordered her lunch, gave me the finger. You know the one. The index finger. That “just a second, I’m on the phone” finger.
Now, I am not normally a rude person but all of a sudden, I had an overwhelming desire to become one.
Yes! I see that you are on the phone! Did you think I was going to start talking over your conversation? Interrupt you, verbally, for a signature? You called me. Here I am. Still waiting. For you.
I wanted to give her the finger back. You know, the middle one. I had a strong desire to shout out “Hey lady, your credit card was declined…” and count how many people in the building turned their head.
Hey, she started it…
But it isn’t just her. Standing in line at Chipolte, I overheard one teen whisper (rather loudly) “Hey! Look at that girl, the one with that huge zit!” People can try to be nonchalant, but everyone looks.
At the bakery, with faces pressed up against the glass, breathy anticipation fogs up the protective barrier. “I want that donut, between the two sprinkled ones” that one is the best, I can tell…
In a lineup, downtown, “That’s the guy. Number 4. He stole my purse.”
For all the manners and etiquette we may teach our kids, we need to realize the behavior we model. The point is, no pun intended, pointing draws attention. Probably not all of us, but certainly a large percentage of us have some level of insecurity and being pointed at only serves to shame and increase anxiety, even if that’s not the intention.