Over the course of the past two months I have had two different discussions about regular kinds of things. Things that happen in the normal kinds of activities that people like us participate in during our usual routines, but that we do often as a reaction to the context we are in. These things include things that we are sometimes taught – formally or informally – or things we learn to do by copying from someone else.
The first one has to do with out national anthem. In casual conversation with another dad (whom I do not know well – I don’t even know his name) while we were gathered for a school event our elementary school-aged children were mutually attending. The organizers played the national anthem before the start of the run. Like most of the folks around us, upon being notified that the anthem was about to play, we turned around to find and face the nearest flying American flag. I had a ball cap on, he did not.
Now I played baseball for most of my childhood, so removing your cap and draping it across your left shoulder with your right hand resting over your heart was embedded instinct. I noticed he was slow to position his right hand. I saw him look at my hand, and it seemed like my posturing – with the cap – was familiar to him and if he was wearing a cap, that he would have done as I did. But without the cap, what was he supposed to do with his right hand? I watched his eyes quickly dart around the crowd around us, and by the time we got to the “…by the dawn’s early light…” part of the anthem, he had his right hand draped across his heart, but it seemed awkward and maybe even uncomfortable.
I would not have thought twice about the moment, nor have been able to even recall it within a day or two except for what happened next. He leaned slightly in my direction and whispered, “I only thought we cover our hearts during the Pledge.”
At that moment, I thought, “What would I have done with my right hand if I didn’t have the cap on?” I had some idea, but it turns out I wasn’t 100% sure…
The other discussion was with a friend I do know very well. She had just drivin’ thru and barely survived (by her telling) the last “gully-washer” of a rainstorm that we had. While retelling her tale of surviving all the pleasantries and nuisances of I-95 during that storm, she asked, “When did it become ‘a thing’ for people to use their hazard lights when driving, at constant speed, during rain (or snow or fog)?” I had also noticed this phenomenon over the past several years and had made note that it was something I could not recall seeing the first 18 or so years of my driving life. Now, I’ve seen blinkers on vehicles in a funeral procession, when vehicles were broken down by the side of the road, I’ve seen blinkers on when a vehicle is moving dramatically slower than “at-speed” traffic due to either a mechanical failure or because of a large towing load or as a pacer vehicle for a wide load…but this whole idea of ‘blinkers’ being on during difficult visibility conditions while moving “at speed” seemed new to me and in my mind, a poor use of the blinkers because, based on my experience, when I am driving and I see hazards up ahead, I am assuming that vehicle is not moving ‘at speed.’ The hazards also ‘wash out’ your directional lights in most vehicles so it becomes difficult to forecast lane changes. So I wondered: “Did I miss something?”
These two discussions brought rote, routine tasks forward from the minimally attended, mundane backdrop of my life and thrust them center stage into the mindfulness of this moment. So, I did what any red-blooded, inquisitive American does when we don’t know the answers these days, I asked Google; “‘cause Google knows everything Dad.” (as quoted by my 6-year-old son).
The following is what I found floating around on the world-wide-web, or was it hanging around on the cloud? Or was it from the ‘dark web?’ Not sure, maybe I should ask Google?!
Pledge of Allegiance Etiquette (as described in the US Code Title 4 Chapter 1 Section 4)
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and veterans may render the military salute in the manner provided for persons in uniform.
National Anthem Etiquette (as described in the US Code Title 36 Subtitle I Part A Chapter 3 Section 301)
The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
(b)Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1)when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2)when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
Laws differ from state to state regarding use of hazard lights!
Proper Use of Hazard Lights in the State of Virginia (as described in the Virginia Code Title 46.2 Subtitle III Chapter 10 Article 3)
- Motor vehicles, trailers, and semitrailers:
- when temporarily stopped on the traveled or paved portion of the highway so as to create a traffic hazard, shall flash all four turn signals simultaneously to signal approaching motorists of the existing hazard whenever such vehicle is equipped with a device which will cause the four turn signals to flash simultaneously.
- All four turn signals may be flashed simultaneously on a vehicle slowed or stopped at the scene of a traffic hazard, when traveling as part of a funeral procession, or when traveling at a speed of thirty miles per hour or less.
- Except for vehicles traveling as part of a funeral procession, all four turn signals shall not be flashed simultaneously while the vehicle is traveling faster than thirty miles per hour.
- School buses shall flash all four turn signals when approaching and stopping at railroad grade crossings.
It turns out the right hand belongs over your heart whether you are reciting the pledge of allegiance or demonstrating reverence during the national anthem (unless you are military, in uniform). The cap is accounted for in the right hand held at the left shoulder during the anthem; and it turns out, in the state of Virginia, you can drive “at speed” with your blinkers on as long as your speed is <= 30 mph regardless of the weather conditions!
Well, Google knew.
The kid was right!
And maybe you knew too.
If not, now you know and if you watched GI Joe cartoons in the 1980’s and 1990’s you realize that “…knowing is half the battle.”
If you have had similar experiences of suddenly becoming mindful of things in your life that you were usually mindless about (or things you just didn’t think about much before), feel free to share them on our facebook page or comment below!
I thank you for making the time to read this.
Seriously, whether it was your kind of thing or not, I am grateful you took a moment of your time, your precious time, to read it. That means a lot to me.
Move well and move often.
Love well and love often.
RichRants by Rich Gaudio