Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Measure Twice Cut Once

Here at the feed store, we load most of our product out of a back door that has a dock. The dock is about 3 feet off the ground, just far enough off the level to meet up flush with the back of a pickup or tailgate. It saves a lot on our backs and makes it easy to roll carts and scoot pallets.

The dock is however, a bit out of sight of the rear view and side mirrors of the person backing up the vehicle. To assist the driver, we stand on the dock and with a series of hand signals, guide them to a safe place. It saves on bumpers and hitches and helps keep our new dock in tact.

As one customer shared with me today, however, the nuances of the hand signals might be a bit of an anathema to those new to helping guide vehicles. He shared that when he first married his wife, she would serve as the signaler and he would back up the truck. They got into a bit of a fuss when she would stretch her hands wide apart and then clap (which means stop) and then when he'd go to get out of the pickup, signal that he still needed to back up some more. She'd repeat the stretching her arms and hands wide apart and then suddenly clap, stopping him up short once again.

What he explained to her, and what we all held to be common, is that the width that one spread arms and hands when signalling a driver to back up, demonstrates the distance they need to go before stopping. The clap is the final noise to signal, "STOP!" She had merely thought that clapping was part of backing up vehicles; that is had no intrinsic value, just custom.

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