“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot,
and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
I don’t know if you have noticed this, but some of our fellow drivers can get a little tense out there when things don’t go their way. And if we are somehow connected to that tension, a small percentage of that group will acknowledge our connectedness by giving us a rather passionately delivered one-digit salute. This is occasionally followed by extended and repeated leaning on their car horn and, simultaneously, a desire to get their car as close to ours as possible.
I salute these enraged drivers, but not in a way that you might expect. Rather than employing just one digit, I use my arm in a genial wave that essentially says, “I acknowledge my part in your descent into temporary insanity and take full responsibility with all appropriate apologies and earnest intention never to send you into uncontrolled fits again.” That seems to do the trick, most of the time, and quickly soothes the enraged beast.
I admit I am tempted to return like for like, but do my best to allow these unhinged ones to pass on by with the least further engagement with me.
On occasion, I will notice another driver suddenly racing up from behind, in preparation to engage me in the manner aforementioned about some offense, of which I’m unaware. In these circumstances, at the precise moment that they draw even with me, I hit my brakes just slightly, and they whip by me like a slingshot with little or no engagement.
My aim, frankly, is to give as much courtesy and patience to all my fellow drivers. It seems to me a great opportunity to practice patience, which is a useful skill for other areas of my life, such as parenting. This is also an opportunity to love my neighbor, even when they aren’t being so lovable. Who knows what’s going on in their lives at the moment, so I bless them and move on.
Occasionally, I admit that I too honk at cars next to me and give them a one digit salute. But that’s when I see a really cool classic car cruising along in the slow lane, and the digit I use is my thumb in an upward position.
That always gets a friendly wave back.