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The cure for road rage? A simple wave of the hand

Published October 1, 2012
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The other day, the driver of a small truck ahead of me made multiple (signalled) lane changes back and forth, thereby slowing traffic behind him. Frankly, I was starting to get annoyed by all this aimless wandering, but when he again signalled to come back into my lane, I kept back and let him in anyhow to avoid any trouble.

He entered my lane, then immediately moved into the right turn lane for a small side road. And then, the strangest thing happened. As I passed on his left, he stuck out his hand and waved “thanks,” and in that moment the frustration that had been building inside me was gone, and I instinctively waved back to say “you’re welcome” to this now-forgiven lost driver.

And that, everyone, was when I discovered the cure for road rage. Simple as it sounds, it’s courtesy and consideration for others.

In the past year, I’ve had to trek across the city weekly on Hwy. 401 and had gotten to the point where it was a surprise if I didn’t have at least one close-call on every journey from an inattentive driver cutting me off. I’d become resigned to the fact that bad drivers are an everyday encounter and, frankly, driving stopped being fun.

Sometimes one has to wonder if society not only forgot the meaning of courtesy, but also how to acknowledge it. Most of us on the road don’t deliberately try to be a nuisance, but if you do inadvertently interfere with another driver, a polite gesture to apologize or show appreciation for their patience is the least one can do.

It’s the small things that count, and as I learned, can set the tone to how you approach the rest of your day.

Just prior to writing this article, my sister and I (along with our dogs) stepped off the neighbourhood sidewalk to let a little girl approaching on a bike pass us from behind. I certainly wasn’t expecting a medal, but we received one in the form of a friendly wave, a smile, and one simple word: “thanks.”

If she remembers these childhood lessons on common courtesy when she learns to drive, maybe there’s hope for humanity after all.

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