This might be the most offensive post I have ever written. So far…
Have you ever offended someone and you didn’t know until it was too late? When I was about 20 years old, I remember driving down the Deerfoot in Calgary with a few other friends. We happened to drive along a police car and noticed that the cop in the passenger seat was chatting with his partner, he was relaxed and had his finger casually hooked into the window frame. The funny thing was that it was his middle finger and so he looked like he was flipping us all off.
We did what we thought was right. All three of us in the car likewise returned the favour. We flipped him the bird. We gave him the Trudeau salute. We showed him the finger.
Brave or stupid, we were about to find out
He finally noticed us and he frowned. We quickly pointed at his own finger, smiled broadly, and began to sweat that this was probably not a great idea after all. Luckily the officer noticed what we were doing and had a great sense of humour. He split up laughing and pulled down the offending finger.
When I travel I also find myself in similar circumstances. I may think I am simply relaxing, calling a kid over, or saying “great job!” and be completely unaware of how much I am confusing or offending any number of people who pass by. Thankfully, most of the time they will also laugh along with (at) me as I obviously don’t know the local rules.
Curious how you would do? Here is a great fun way to find out!
(if the story already offended you, don’t check it out)
Travel is an adventure.
And like all great adventures there are great risks. One of the pitfalls that can strike anyone is cross cultural offence. It happens when you least expect it!
So how many did you know?