Intersection Wave-Through Wars

I swear, it used to be different. It can’t be just me.

Not that long ago, if you and another car arrived at adjoining corners of a four-way intersection at about the same time, one driver would of course wave the other through. Or maybe there would be reciprocating, overlapping waves, creating confusion, simultaneous forward lurches, quick braking — and reciprocating smiles. Right? And then one would make a show, a self-deprecating show, of releasing the wheel in a “hands-off” motion…and the other would laugh, wave, and make his left. Life went on.

Deep breath, now.

Deep breath, now.

Somewhere, somehow, something changed. I don’t know how. Nowadays, when the tandem stop occurs, I almost always flick my lights to invite my brother or sister of the road to go through. I’m almost always not in a hurry; I work at home and set my own schedule. It makes me calm and content to drive the speed limit and take my time. And I get a boost out of doing a favor for someone who might be having a busy day.

But no. Ohhhhh no. More often than not now, the other driver watches my flashing lights, tilts his or her head into the proper posture for glaring, and waves me through. If I don’t proceed immediately to make my turn and clear their intersection, the brow knits, the mouth sets, the wave gets tight-muscled and urgent…and I am left with two options: 1. sheepishly do as commanded and suffer the look of opprobrium as I pass, or 2. let his or her royal highness go through, wheels chirping in rancor.

Whaaaaaa? Are the new hybrids running on increased blood pressure these days? Where did this come from, this ethic of, “No, I need to be the nice one! First! Me me me meeeeI’m the morally superior one, not you! And don’t you forget it!”

I understand that a steady diet of customer unservice, news from Syria, cloudy days, reality television and a thousand other things can scrape the shine off of life. But people, people — what have we come to? The automotive version of “shall we dance” when two people are caught walking down the same side of a hallway should be a chance to let off some pleasant steam — not another occasion for detesting strangers. Life’s hard. Can we all ease up?

By all means…after you.♦

©2013 Adam Barr

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