The Car Wave Payment

A symbol of acknowledgment. Recognition of the actions of another.  Payment for the favour shown.  The neighborly wave.  What is this wave thing all about?

I was in Calgary driving with my younger, newly minted college student cousin, when he slowed to let another vehicle get into our lane.  His comment then, that “it was worth a wave” was the seed for this pondering on cultural norms.

It’s worth a wave.

But how is that determined?

Is a wave a social norm?

I can’t seem to find any particular writings on its origin.  Although I theorize that it’s from friendlier driving days, passed on into the car culture.  Regardless, it’s a interesting socially acceptable acknowledgement now.  Some people get upset if you don’t wave, it’s just the polite thing to do.

My recent experience with merging and the wave was with an SUV that begrudging in letting me enter the flow of traffic from a side street.  I waved after, but I wasn’t particularly happy about it because the SUV behind me was creeping while letting me in, signally, at least in my mind, that they too weren’t pleased I was entering traffic.



The cousin and I.  We’re so obviously related.

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