From “Rants About Something Dumb”
I’m a confident driver. Just because I drive a minivan (which kills me, by the way) doesn’t mean I won’t be quick off the line or pass you on the highway. I take the roads seriously, too, because I like living. Unfortunately, minivan drivers get lumped into the Pussyfoot category, which can lead to assumptions and a li’l bit of roadway bullying. But see, a Pussyfoot I am not. I’m a confident, vigilant, quick-accelerating, blinker-using, blind-spot-checking, friendly driver. You can be all those things and be friendly, too.
Example: I wave.
If somebody (polite) wants in, I do my best to accommodate; and when someone lets me in, I wave. I wave every time, without exception. Why? Because I have freaking manners. It’s a non-verbal thank you in response to basic roadway civility. (I even still actually say “thank you” like they can hear me, but that’s because I’m a dork.)
Isn’t it amazing how a simple hand gesture can so dramatically alter the way one feels about a situation?
A little while back, I was driving along and approached a lane closure. Now, this is Florida. Florida is The State of Year-Round Construction, as well as Land of the Incompetent Driver. (Rather lousy combination.) So there is always either A) an aloof driver who is somehow caught off guard by the well-marked lane closure, or B) a driver being an obstinate jerk about it by zipping to the end of the lane and butting in. Always. No seriously, always. This was no different in that respect — I was subjected to option B that day — but what was different was how the bum-headed driver responded.
So he cut me off, this driver, leaving me with two alternatives: allow him in or crash. Awesome choices, thanks for that. Since I don’t like crashing, I backed off (although he had invaded my car bubble and I had to endure a moment or two uncomfortably close to his bumper). Then, as I eased back, I saw his arm appear in the space between the seats.
That could go only two ways.
He could have given me the one finger salute. People can get highly defensive when they know they’re in the wrong, and a profane hand gesture wouldn’t be entirely unexpected. Such a gesture only serves to incite the other driver, though, and now both drivers are agitated, probably huffing all the way to their destination…and an angry driver is a dangerous driver. So, one dumb-dumb move on the road followed by an offensive hand gesture and now you’ve got two angry, dangerous drivers raging through town.
(It calls to mind Bill Murray’s crazed character in the movie Groundhog Day: “Don’t drive angry…don’t drive angry!” Think about that the next time you’re driving angry, it helps.)
(Ohmyword that’s a funny movie. I don’t think that will ever not be funny.)
The driver didn’t flip me the bird, though.
Immediately, with that simple wave of his hand, my irritation was diffused. And not only was I no longer angry, but I flashed my own palm back in friendly acknowledgement. He did something annoying, I grumbled, but then he waved his hand and *poof* all was well! The Wave can be downright magical.
So wave your hand, folks. It’s easy, just stick your hand up! Wiggle your fingers! Smile, even! Engage your fellow humans with this quick, simple gesture of courtesy and respect…acknowledge the humanity on the roadways.
We’re all just people.
Thanks for reading.