It’s called the thank-you wave.
You’re supposed to use it when someone is kind enough to let you merge into their lane. They’re basically giving you their future spot. A traffic sacrifice, if you will.
They don’t have to let you in.
But they do.
Then there’s the other situation. The one I was in … I was forced to merge. Minding my own business until I hit construction. The flashing orange arrows forcing me into the other lane.
Did I want to go there?
No. I didn’t. But city improvements forced my hand and I found myself turning on my blinker, which for some reason always seems to have the opposite effect around here. I’m letting people know way in advanced of my intentions, but they seem to speed up, even if they’re two cars away. People enjoy their personal space and the space they intend to inhabit with their vehicles.
So as you might have guessed cars started speeding up, behind me. However I realized that the cars in front of me had this pattern going on. Let one car in, other car drives through. Let one car in, other car drive through. Let one car in …
And so on …
But when I got to my place in the pattern, the cars sped up and created this no-pass zone. So all I could do was wait until the traffic died down.
So I waited. And so did my blinker.
I saw the line of cars in my rear view mirror and sighed.
I thought I would be there at least ten minutes. I prepared myself and changed the station, good music makes the wait go faster. Then as Tim McGraw started to sing sweet nothings into my ear this blue four-door Mazda paused.
I looked up and smiled. He didn’t have to do it, the line was still long, but he did. I maneuvered my way into the lane and stopped at the red light ahead of me. I looked in the rear-view mirror and gave him the thank-you wave. But I still felt that wasn’t enough.
So I looked into my glove compartment and raided my chocolate stash. I found my tastiest piece of cacao treasure and made a mad dash for the blue Mazda. I tapped the window and asked him to roll it down. Now normally people don’t do this in my neck of the woods, we keep our doors and windows locked at all times. But I got the friendly California smile that makes you trust a person like myself.
He rolled down his window and looked concerned.
I waved the magic of chocolate before his eyes and handed it to him.
“Thanks for letting me pass through,” I said.
Then I got back into my car and drove away.
It was the first time I had seen the response to one of my kind acts. The last couple of times, nobody had seen me or knew who had bestowed a kind gesture upon them, but this time was different.
And his reaction was awesome.
I was so glad to have witnessed it. Made my 40 before 40 adventure even better. It was something little, but it made a significant enough impact to change his state. Chocolate has the effect.
I was grateful for that.