Waving goodbye to “The Wave”
It appears the long-standing polite signal has disappeared in this angry age
My Dad taught me how to drive back in 1970s. Almost 40 years later, the fact that I never come to a rolling stop at a stop sign is all thanks to him. I can still hear his voice in my head saying, “Stop means stop, not slow down. They’ll give you a ticket if you don’t.” As usual, my Dad knew better. He taught me to do the right thing. Not just when I felt like it, but all the time.
In spite of his expert instruction, you can bet there were at least a few occasions when my teenaged brain forgot to stop. I got a ticket. I paid the price. That’s the thing about doing the right thing. There’s a price to be paid when you don’t.
Dad taught me that if you were going to do something, you jolly well better do it right. “Jolly well.” When’s the last time you heard that? He was also a fan of “Sam Hill,” as in: “What in the Sam Hill do you think you’re doing?” To this day, I don’t know who Sam Hill was, or why my Dad was such a fan of his.
Don’t get me wrong — Dad wasn’t perfect. I won’t even tell you about the time he and his buddies were almost hit by a train when their car got stuck on the tracks near Glencoe one Halloween night in the 1950s. In a cruel yet wildly funny twist of fate, Dad was apparently wearing a Daisy Mae costume — Daisy Mae, from the cartoon strip “Li’l Abner.” By the grace of God, he and his friends got the car off the tracks just in the nick of time. It was the one occasion where his driving skills weren’t what you’d call exemplary. On the bright side, those who knew him well say he looked good in a skirt. But I digress.
Dad was a Merchant Marine during the war; he was a man of integrity. During our driving lessons, this meant always using proper form: “Two hands on the wheel, look in the mirrors, leave plenty of space between you and the next guy,” he would say again and again.
But Dad taught me something else — something I still do to this day. And maybe you do, too. “The wave.”
You know the one I mean. Someone lets you merge into traffic on the highway, and you give them “the wave” — that polite wave in the rear view mirror that says ‘Thank-you for helping me. I really appreciate you doing that.’”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but the wave … is dead. Deader than a doornail. It has disappeared from the master list of social graces that we all subscribe to in this civilized society of ours. Sayonara. Gone baby, gone. There wasn’t a death notice in the newspaper, by the way. We all just woke up one morning to discover it had disappeared for good.
Call it a sign of the times in a day and age when millions of us seem to care more about ourselves and the latest picture we’ve posted to Facebook than we do about our fellow man. It’s a “me, me, me” world out there, and you’ll likely never notice it more than on the highway.
Can’t you just hear Jerry Seinfeld now? “Where’s the wave? What happened to the wave? Why am I the only one doing the wave?” And I am nothing if not defiant. I do the wave constantly. I even roll down my window to twirl my hand in the air in a supersized version of the wave. Inside my car, I yell at other people when they don’t do the wave.
“Really?” I ask in disbelief. “Really?” It makes me think of my Dad every time. What would he say if he were still alive? He’d probably just shake his head and wonder why people aren’t doing the right thing. “There’s a price to be paid when you don’t,” he’d say. And it’s a big one. We’re losing the simple social graces that make this life of ours a sweeter ride. #BringBackTheWave.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but the wave … is dead. Deader than a doornail. It has disappeared from the master list of social graces.