Friday, September 7, 2012

You Know What Grinds My Gears???

What ever happened to the courtesy wave from drivers?  Am I suddenly of the age when I look back with nostalgia at better times, remembering the kind, pleasant ways of my neighbours and fellow citizens?

I don’t think I am in that age range yet where my heart sighs with memory.  But I really don’t understand when the simple ‘thank you’ gesture from one driver to another disappeared.  I could take a guess and say it’s a generation thing, young drivers don’t know this signal, but I promise you, it’s not just young people who aren’t waving.  Many people in my generation and above seem to have forgotten it too.

Growing up we were a travelling family.  Not like a traveling circus family, but just a family who happened to take a lot of road trips.  My parents were courteous drivers; I am proud of the fact that I learned many excellent driving skills from them.  Particularly the friendly wave.  (Perhaps I’ll tell you about the driving with a lead foot skill another time…)

Now, maybe it’s a small town thing.  Small town folks smile and wave at each other all the time.  It’s like we are on happy pills and are thrilled to see other people or something.  Imagine driving those back country roads, chugging along peacefully in the remote infrastructure of Bruce County when lo and behold!  Another driver!  Hallelujah!  We MUST smile and wave at them as they drive by.

No, I don’t think that is it.  My mom grew up in the city, and I spent most of my youth in the city, and my mom was a wavin’ driver then.  So extremely happy small town people is irrelevant to my concern.

I currently live in a reasonable neighbourhood in a reasonable mid-sized city.  My street is wide enough for street parking on one side.  Often times you have to pull to the side while the oncoming car drives around the parked car.  This is a classic moment of when the Thank You wave would come into play.  I’d guess that 9 times out of 10 there is no Thank You wave.  It’s a little disappointing.  I like to give the friendly wave, sometimes it’s met with a nod, though most times the driver just stares on ahead like my car and I don’t even exist.  We don’t even factor in as another player on the road.

It just grinds my gears.  Literally.  I take my foot off the clutch and jam the stick shift into second just to hear the crunch and squeal to make the oncoming, non-waving, zoned-out driver pay attention to me.

Kidding, kidding.  No one likes doing that.  Not even in aggressive road rage situations.

But really.  Let’s all take a moment and think of a few years ago when friendliness happened on the roadways all the time.  Wasn’t it nice?  Didn’t it make you feel nice?  I bet it did. 

So what’s the solution?  Maybe if I just keep smiling and waving others will get the point.  Or maybe I’ll grind my gears at people.  We’ll see.

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