… and it’s time to bring it back.
A surprising thing has been happening on our roads recently, and I’m blaming Covid lockdowns, without any evidence mind you, just on a feeling. The ‘thank you’ wave has gone missing in action.
As a motorist who, thanks to the job I do, spends an above-average amount of time driving, I try to be kind and courteous. Wanna merge into my lane and indicate that you wish to do so? I’ll leave a gap, and if possible, even create one for you.
Stopped at a T-intersection and the line of traffic you’re looking to enter is bumper to bumper and not moving? ‘Here you go, mate… have my spot in the queue’.
Navigating a tight city two-way street where one driver has to cede ground to allow the other to pass without running the risk of side-swiping parked cars, or each other? I’m generally the first to blink, pulling up behind a parked car or an appropriate gap to allow the oncoming vehicle safe passage.
Traditionally, these acts of courtesy and micro-kindness are met with a small wave, an acknowledgement that says, ‘I see you; I see what you did, and I thank you’. Or, at least they used to.
But, increasingly, the wave has become non-existent, making way for stony-faced indifference cloaked in entitlement.
And I blame Covid lockdowns. During lockdown, our roads were uncluttered, free of the traffic that caused frustration to build behind the wheel as we ground our way to work, to home, to school, to the beach, to wherever and back again.
Instead, for those who did venture out during the dystopia that was the early days of the pandemic, we were met with the motorist’s utopian ideal – empty roads and the feeling that the world was yours and yours alone. Freedom of a different kind even as our liberties were temporarily – and justifiably – eroded.
Perhaps that’s why we forgot our manners. After all, there was no one to give way to, no one to acknowledge their – and our – small acts of roadgoing kindness, no one, in short, to get between us and our destination. The ‘thank you wave’? Unnecessary. We simply became lazy because we didn’t need to be anything else.
But now that we’re back in full swing, and the roads once more resemble a carpark rather than a tarmac of driving nirvana, that same acknowledgment has become increasingly absent. I don’t know how many times I’ve displayed exemplary road manners – creating gaps, waving through, giving room – without so much as a look let alone a wave. It’s as if we’ve come to expect the roads to open up for us and only us.
The acknowledgement wave as a visual way of saying thanks needs to come back, stat. It’s a symbol of a civil motoring society, one that shows respect for our fellow road citizens, a five-fingered recognition that we are not alone in this world, that we see and are seen by our fellow road users.
So next time someone lets you into the flow of traffic, give them a little wave. It’s not hard, you don’t even have to lift your hand from the steering wheel if you don’t want to. Hell, if you’re feeling particularly lazy you can do it by lifting just your index finger from the wheel. It’s really not that hard. And you’ll make someone who you – likely – don’t know feel good and you will feel good yourself.
And society as a whole will be just that tiny bit better off because instead of mild annoyance and micro-frustration, a little creek of the neurotransmitter dopamine will course its way through your brain. You’ll feel happier, the recipient of your wave will feel happier, and the world will feel fractionally less frenetic.
The post Opinion: I need your help. The ‘thank you’ wave is missing in action… appeared first on Drive.
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