The “Friendly” Road Wave…Or Is It?
You’ve done it before – when you merge into traffic and you give the driver behind you that quick friendly wave (raising your hand so it can be seen by the driver behind you) as a way of saying, “Thanks for letting me get in,” but is it always interpreted the right way? Or when people do it to you, do they mean it in a positive manner? I think the origin of the “road wave” (as it will be referred to throughout the rest of this piece) has a more dark and sinister meaning, one that if more people knew its true origins, the world would be a far worse place. In fact, the road wave can be traced back to the days of the early cave man, before there were even roads.
Back when early man was exploring his surroundings, there were often many dangers lurking in the wild, ready to spring at a moments notice upon an unsuspecting cave man. Early on, man learned that if they hunted in pairs, they would achieve better success rates (quite possibly the origins or the now common phrase that is spammed amongst MMORPS – “GROUP PLZ!”) than hunting alone. This was quickly surmised after several men would go out alone to forage for food alone…and mysteriously never returned… So one day, an intrepid caveman decided to pair up to increase his chances of survival. They were out hunting a bear, when suddenly, the tables turned and it was the bear that was hunting them. The intrepid cave man quickly realized that he didn’t have to outrun the bear – just outrun his partner. So, he quickly sped up and cut in front of him. And as the bear pounced upon the hapless caveman, the intrepid hunter raised his right hand and waved back to thank him for allowing him to escape certain doom. He didn’t stop running of course, oh no, because he did not want to be dessert for the bear. Instead he just kept running until he was safe back at his cave. What he didn’t see was the reaction the hapless caveman had to his wave – a reaction of anger, disgust, and hatred…which was quickly overcome by pain and agony.
Fast forward a couple million years and you have the modern car and today’s roads. With beltway gridlock and traffic jams up the wazoo, we seem to have reverted to that primal state and have become territorial in our cars when on the road. “This is my spot dang it, and no one is going to take it from me!” Maybe a majority of the people on the road today were the victims of “friend cuts” back in elementary school – where someone in front of them let their friend cut in front of them, and then immediately that friend let their friend who let them in cut back in front of them, thereby screwing the guy/girl behind them without having the original placeholder friend get the shaft – and are thus bitter at letting anyone get in front of them for the rest of their lives. Either way, they certainly don’t WANT you cutting in front of them when you are trying to get over a lane. And how do you know that your “road wave” isn’t going to be interpreted as something similar to (or worse than) giving them the bird? The fact is, most of the time when someone cuts in front of you and gives you the road wave, they are secretly saying “Ha Ha! SUCKER!”
So how do we tell when it’s ok to give the road wave? Well, usually when old ladies are waving you over in crowded traffic, it’s ok to change lanes…but watch out! Some of them are sneaky in their old age and might just be trying to lure you into their trap – the trap of a fender bender (Driver: “But officer, she was waving me to move over” Old Lady: “Cut the baloney sonny! That was my nervous twitch – I was swatting at the pixies in the car!”). Other times are when it’s a student driver. You can actually cut these ones close and squeeze into spots you normally shouldn’t fit, because it’s good to give our young drivers real-world experience while they’re under the stressful gaze of an instructor, and then calmly give them the road wave. Truckers are 50/50 – country truckers live by “the code” and will often let you in, but city truckers are rebels and renegades on a mission to prove how large their member is. At all costs, stay away from men in sports cars and girls in SUV’s – those are the ones you don’t want to mess with. So the next time you are on the road, make sure you tail gate the guy in front of you, allowing no possible chance for someone to cut in front of you and give you the road wave. Because who knows, the next time you see that wave, check your rear-view mirror. There might be a bear on your tail and you don’t know it.