The Rockwood Files: Raised right on the road

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By Gwen Rockwood, syndicated columnist and mama of 3

Last week I wrote a column called “Ways to know someone has been raised right,” and I added three things to the list. Here are three more “raised right” behaviors I bet you’ve seen on the open road.

No. 1: People who have been raised right let people in. When you’re stuck in the turn lane and there’s an impossibly long line of cars coming in the opposite direction, you pray someone will take mercy on you and let you out of your turn-lane purgatory. Someone who has been raised right will stop and (if it’s safe) wave you through.

I have no scientific proof, but I like to believe in “driving karma.” If you’re the kind of person who lets another driver into a long line of traffic or pauses to let a person safely turn left, you’re more likely to be the beneficiary of these kindnesses when you need them.orange cone highway2

I should note, however, that there is one exception to this rule. If you’re on the interstate and two or more lanes of traffic have been forced to merge left because of orange cones and construction, it’s perfectly fine to NOT let in that one driver who races ahead on the right side and passes the entire line of bumper-to-bumper cars, expecting to be let into the front of the line at the last possible moment. That’s just narcissism run amok.

(I say we all band together and make sure that driver sits there until they think about what they’ve done.)

No. 2: People who have been raised right do the courtesy wave. If you’re the recipient of a kind gesture on the road – like being let into a line of traffic or being waved through to turn left – you do the courtesy wave.hello wave barbie2

The courtesy wave is one of the first things my dad taught me when I learned to drive. It’s how you not only acknowledge a driving kindness but also say thank you. I’ve even seen some people who are raised so right that they do the courtesy wave while mouthing the words “THANK YOU” to the other driver. (Bonus points to you if you’re one of those people.)

No. 3: People who have been raised right don’t automatically assume the other driver is evil. We enrolled our 15-year-old son in a driving academy last summer, and the instructor gave one of the best pieces of driving advice I’ve ever heard – especially in light of a growing number of road rage tragedies.

She said that if someone cuts you off in traffic or does anything that you perceive to be rude, imagine that the person has an emergency.

It’s easy to get angry at somebody if you assume the guy is a jerk who thinks he can do anything he wants. It’s tempting to want to get even with that kind of driver.

It’s easier to stay calm when you tell yourself that the guy probably has a raging case of diarrhea and is distracted and desperate to get home to the toilet before the next wave of misery hits.worried nervous emoji

Some of you will reject that theory, insisting that the person who cut you off did it because he or she is a jerk-face who was talking on the phone. In cases like these, I like to imagine that the person is on the phone saying the following words to their spouse: “Honey, I’m calling to say I love you. I’ve been hit with the worst case of diarrhea known to man, and I might not make it home before it kills me. Tell the kids I love them, and don’t attempt to clean out the driver’s seat of the car. Just burn it. Goodbye, my love.”

Imagine that scenario the next time you’re ticked off behind the wheel, and maybe you’ll giggle instead of glare or get even. Stay safe out there, and wave at anyone you pass who has been raised right.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

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