Making Waves in Harbord Village: David Macfarlane Reflects on Acknowledging Other People

Local author David Macfarlane writes in the Mar. 27 Globe & Mail about waving to a driver as he walked along Harbord Street, on a slightly dangerous stretch where the sidewalk crosses a narrow laneway. That leads to another vivid story about waving between boaters, and to remarks about acknowledging other people to reassure them and ourselves that we see each other. You may recognize our neighbourhood.

If you’re a Globe subscriber, read the whole lively and thoughtful article here; or at least enjoy this excerpt:

The subject of waving came up recently. This was because I was. Waving. I was waving while walking. On a sidewalk, actually. On Harbord Street, in Toronto. Well, it was more of a salute really. The driver of the car waved back to me exactly the same way.

The car was a small, white, not-exactly new workhorse of urban practicality. It was driven by a middle-aged woman. These were good signs. Based on the rapid, almost intuitive calculations Toronto pedestrians are required to make about approaching vehicles, I felt my chances of being plowed down mercilessly by a slow-moving Hyundai Accent were low. Guys in SUVs are the other end of the scale.

I have to admit, though, that the motion of my hand may have started as a signal for caution. The white car and I met abruptly. But the universal hand signal for stop (a dramatic combination of reaching forward while stepping back) realigned itself mid-gesture into a cheerful wave. I could see that the driver had seen me and that she acknowledged my right of way.

I understood this from her wave to me, just as she understood from mine to her that I would continue in my current direction, that I appreciated her foot on the brake, and that I wished her a pleasant day.

From “Making Waves” by David Macfarlane, Globe and Mail, 26 March 2021, page O3