Thursday, 25 March 2010

Prospects for the air signature

At the end of lunch yesterday I had trouble getting the waiter's attention. Eventually I caught his eye - he was on the other side of the room. He came towards me but I halted him as I only wanted the bill. The gesture I used to indicate this is what I shall call the 'air signature' (as in air guitar and air kiss): that squiggle you make with your hand up in the air as if you're signing a cheque or credit card slip suspended from the ceiling.

Now that we don't have cheques and have gone all chip 'n' pin, I wonder whether this gesture will die out? Perhaps it will continue to be used by a declining number of people who are now over the age of about twenty-five, being gradually replaced by the 'air finger-punch' (four jabs with the pointing finger at an imaginary suspended key pad). Or will it persist long after its referent has disappeared, rather like the handshake (open palm indicating no weapon is being held)?

11 comments:

worm said...

well the v sign is still going strong, and it's relevance actually died out with the passing of the longbow, so we could be stuck with the air-sig for a while yet

Brit said...

I always thought that International Sign of the Bill represented a written thing, ie. the bill itself, rather than somebody writing a cheque.

Recusant said...

Well my children - 18 and 20 - complain that I look both pompous and gay whenever I perform the air signature. They're are trying to convince me that the correct form is to mouth the words "bill, please".

Just another reason to hate progress, in my book.

dearieme said...

Serves you right for treating children who are old enough that they should be treating you, Recusant.

Recusant said...

Yeah. Right, Dearieme.

One day, maybe, but not yet. In any case they would only be paying for it with the money I give them. I know, it wasn't like that for me: finish 'A' levels, get job, go to university, never ask parents for money again....

As I said - "Just another reason to hate progress".

worm said...

I think there's a lot to be said for clicking your fingers over your head and shouting 'Garcon!'. They love that.

Gaw said...

Worm: I'd forgotten about that one - what an excellent example. Quite humbling to think we're replicating the gestures of fourteenth century Welshmen. Or at least I think so.

Brit: Ah! Could be. But I guess that should be pretty much obsolete too now.

Recusant: A full-blown gesture is so much more physically engaging and satisfying. Kids are now just so far removed from the physical world, spending all day on the computer...

Dearieme: Eighteen and twenty - isn't that when the really big expenditures start (that deposit on a flat...)?

mahlerman said...

Clicking is good Worm because by then it is too late for them to pee in your soup (trust me, I've seen it) - but chip 'n' pin is already old hat, and soon to be replaced by Reflex ID (legs crossed, wait for the hammer) or the already tested Eyeball Recognition. To attract the blight, simply lift the upper eyelid with your index finger while dragging down the lower lid with your thumb, staring the while at the beast. That should speed him over sharpish

GOR said...

Is there any CCTV coverage of this event avaialable? Outdated gesture or not I would like to see photographic evidence of you paying a bill.

zmkc said...

I'm told that standing on the table banging two plates together often does the trick, but making for the door as soon as you've finished usually produces a quick response too.

Gaw said...

Mahlerman: Wow, that's a pretty forbidding set of routines to remember and deploy!

GOR: Don't worry, I was just eager to leave not to pay!

z: I'm can't focus on your comment as I'm still fondly thinking of shorts.