Do you wave to your neighbors when you drive by? Do you wave to your neighbors when you are out walking your dog? Do you wave to other riders when you are on your motorcycle? These are the obligatory courtesy wave that we have all experienced and hopefully been a part of sharing. What does this little wave provide? There are no words spoken with the wave. There is no specific meaning that was taught to us as children, yet it is a normal occurrence in our culture. It is such a nice feeling just to be acknowledged. And this brings me to the rant, the courtesy wave or really the lack thereof.
When someone does something particularly kind to you in traffic you give a little courtesy wave. It doesn’t take much time and it is rather a simple act. While this is a very simple act that takes very minimal effort, it holds such an impact. For me personally when I get this courtesy wave, I just feel appreciated. It’s nice to think that the person in front of me actually appreciated the few seconds that I took to let them get in front of me in traffic.
However, there is a flip-side to this coin. When I let someone in front of me, especially during rush hour traffic and they don’t acknowledge my kindness, it is almost infuriating. I realize that it shouldn’t upset me and that we don’t do nice things for recognition. But I can’t help it. It frustrates me. It makes me feel invisible. Now as a person that isn’t the least bit self conscious and has super high self-esteem (at least I believe I do), I do not generally feel invisible or of low value. So when I don’t get the wave, it surprises me that I actually get mad and even a little offended. As a society yes, we are all very self-absorbed in one way or another. I myself have these moments and possibly the existence of my annoyance with a lack of a courtesy wave is actually a fault of mine but I always give the courtesy wave. Or a friendly nod of my head to the person letting me switch lanes. I try to think of others. Doesn’t basic human nature have us all seek acknowledgment of some kind? We just want to be noticed and appreciated. Sometimes we get that from family, friends, or our jobs. But sometimes we need it from a stranger in traffic. We exist, we are not invisible. Whether we are giving them a courtesy wave, or just giving a quick nod of the head to the stranger on the elevator, we should treat others with some basic kindnesses and the courtesy wave is one of the easiest of these.
So please, the next time you are stuck in traffic and someone helps you to change lanes, remember to give the little courtesy wave. It could just make that other persons day a little better and make them feel noticed and sit a little bit taller for the rest of the day.