Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hey! Where's my thank-you wave?

It happened again today on the way home from work. At the last possible second, a motorist flicked on his signal light, pleading for me to allow him into my lane. I acquiesed, and the car slid into position ahead of me...

...and no thank-you wave.

There's no good reason for this to rile me up as it does, and I always try to give drivers the benefit of the doubt; perhaps I simply didn't see the wave, perhaps he or she is dealing with troubling personal issues, perhaps the driver doesn't know about the custom. But I can't help but be a little annoyed, because I've always felt that small kindnesses deserve some sort of acknowledgement. It's not that I'm hungry for thanks, but rather I want people to recognize that we exist within a society filled with other human beings. Ignoring a courteous gesture is akin to treating others like robots or obstacles.

Of course, in a world filled with far greater injustices, it's silly to get too upset about such trivialities. But I can't help but think that ignoring the small moments of politeness is symptomatic of a society moving toward greater indifference to others.

8 comments:

NAES said...

Time to punch face.

Totty said...

I'm torn on this sort of thing. If you truly did someone a solid, I think a wave it in order and I'll certainly give one when needed.

On the other hand, when someone signals for a lane change you are legally obligated to let them in so did you really do anything worthy of a wave? I like to look at it as "did you put me out to do it?", in which case show me some love.

In your situation, a last second change, I think you're owed. However, I don't want people expecting waves for them doing their legal requirement, that's like tipping for poor service. Not that I want to start that argument.

"The Jefffomite Maneuver" said...

I belive that most people have the wrong idea about driving. They think of it as a chore or as something that takes up too much time.

The reality of driving is that you are gambling with your life, the lives of your passengers, and the lives of the people around you. We take it for granted that we will win the gamble, but every day in the news - every day without fail - you can find out about somebody in your municiplality that lost that gamble.

Honestly, the only thing you should be doing behind the wheel is everything you possibly can to make sure that you are safe and that the people around you won't get hurt.

If you can't do that, you really should not drive. If you are doing that, then that's really the only thing you should have to worry about. If everybody did that, then we'd be living in some kind of fantasy world.

Driving is not a contest to see who can get to the destination the fastest or even the most efficiently or courteously. It's the effort to see your vehicle to its endpoint without a collision.

If that were not 100% true, then why do we have mandatory provincial insurance?

Earl J. Woods said...

Well, clearly I'm depressingly wrong about this issue.

Earl J. Woods said...

On further reflection, though, maybe it's not depressing at all. Perhaps the folks who don't offer thank you waves are offering something even better - complete concentration on the road and their surroundings. That's better than a wave any day!

Benchmark said...

You're not wrong, Earl. It bothers me too, just like it bothers me when I hold a door open for someone and they walk through pretending you don't exist, as if a freak chinook wind is blowing the door open instead.

A wave while driving is a nearly effortless and safe way of showing courtesy, whether to acknowledge a kind act or some sort of legal requirement. It's upsetting for exactly the reasons you stated.

Devil's Advocate said...

I am the one who doesn't wave when you give way. My taxes pay for that stretch of road as much as yours. Besides, don't you know what that big pedal in the middle is for? It's to slow down and let me in so that I can tailgate the guy in front of you or travel 15 km below the speed limit so you can fume at my bumper. Anyone behind me is little people and beneath my notice.

Anonymous said...

I've got your courtesy wave right here:

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/
archive/01504/salute_1504842c.jpg