The Courtesy Wave

By Jennifer Carroll, CAPP

The finger wave (courtesy wave) is something I only discovered after I moved south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Raising your fingers off the steering wheel as a “greeting” to others passing by.  It is fairly safe as you can keep your hand/thumb on the steering wheel.  You can do the one finger wave, (but not that finger) two finger wave, three finger wave, or really go all out and use all four fingers!  There are so many meanings to it that you that you discover once you have experienced this wave:

  • We are in a small town and probably know each other.
  • We both drive motorcycles.
  • Sorry for cutting you off.
  • You’re lucky I was paying attention when you cut me off and didn’t hit your car.
  • I don’t live in this small town but everyone else is waving to me.
  • Go ahead and merge in front of me.
  • Thank you for letting me merge in front of you.
  • We both drive Corvettes.
  • Sorry for backing out in front of you.
  • Thanks for that favor.
  • I forgive you for driving like an idiot.
  • Welcome to my small town, I don’t know you.
  • I know I just made a right turn from the extreme left lane, but thank you for not hitting my car.
  • We both drive Jeeps.
  • Go ahead first, I know these 4-way stops are confusing.

I have not seen as many courtesy waves lately, versus years ago, so let’s bring it back.  It is a nice thing to do and it is obviously practicing social distancing!  No, it is not mandatory in every state to give the courtesy wave, it is something you learn over your years as a driver.  Sure, sometimes you may “wave” hello or thank you and not get a response but is it not better to give than receive-go ahead, take the chance!

Jennifer Carroll, CAPP is regional vice president – airport division for Reef Parking.