Have you ever been the recipient of an act of driving courtesy so considerate, magnanimous and selfless that it restored your faith in humanity?
Me neither … or at least that's the way I would have answered for most of my driving life. But of late, for no reason I could originally discern, I have noticed a big change in the demeanour of motorists.
Let's face it. When it comes to all things road-related, the milk of human kindness is lactose-free.
Driving is a game of possession – like football, but with more hitting. Most motorists would rather hand over their first-born to cannibals than let another driver make a turn in front of them or squeeze over from a closed lane.
That's why it was such a surprise recently when another driver – previously known as "the enemy" – gave me a go-ahead wave as I attempted to make a turn from a side street.
After checking to see how many fingers the young man had used and ascertaining that there wasn't a land mine awaiting me, I eased into traffic and gave him the obligatory wave of thanks. A driver purposely letting someone get in front of them is normally an event of historic proportions, on par with resisting the urge to floor it when the light turns orange or Stephen Harper putting Pierre Trudeau's picture on the $20 bill.
I was convinced this was a once-in-a-lifetime moment of automotive civility – or temporary insanity. Then, it happened again. I had made a left turn on to my suburban street and was confronted by three large construction trucks that had closed an entire lane. I was facing a sign instructing motorists to yield to oncoming traffic and an approaching car.
Logically, the driver of that car should have allowed me to continue, but I have been driving long enough to know that logic, courtesy and a large sign probably meant I'd be backing up on to a busy four-lane road.
But just as I was trying to recall whether or not my life insurance policy covered events like this, the young man gave me the come-hither wave.
My first reaction was that this was a ruse to lure me out into the open. But, no, it was all above-board and we even exchanged smiles as we passed.
Maybe, I thought, we've all seen the folly of our selfish ways. How else to explain this sudden outbreak of civility?
I held that illusion for a few days until a more believable explanation came along.
I was exiting a shopping mall when a young man held the door open for me. I was overwhelmed, considering that shoppers are only one step up the evolutionary ladder from drivers, and thanked him. His reply – "You're welcome, sir" – explained it all. Sir?
This wasn't the dawn of a new era in driving relations. It was the fact that my hair is now white enough that I remind everyone under 30 of their fathers, or worse, grandfathers.
Oh well, at least we boomers have one thing to look forward to.
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