The Wave – redux

I’ve long been curious about what people are thinking when they do the wave while driving.  It had always made sense to me in the context of acknowledging that someone has done you a little favor.  Letting you out of a parking lot onto a street when traffic is otherwise stopped is a good example.  Makes perfect sense. There is another context where I see folks do the wave and it doesn’t make any sense all.  These folks do the wave typically when they have done something stupid, dangerous, or both, and usually when they have forced another driver to avoid them. A recent example was a guy at a stop sign on a busy and moving street who just pulled straight in to traffic. The car approaching him had to slam on the brakes as did the cars behind the first car. And then he gave the wave.

I wonder in this context what the wave is meant to signify. Does it mean:

  • I’ve seen other people do the wave but I am confused about the correct context so I’m just throwing it out there?
  • I’m a jackass, I know that I’m a jackass, and I’m making you aware that I know that I’m a jackass?
  • I’m sorry that I did what I did, but not so sorry that I didn’t actually not do it?
  • Not only do I not care what I did, but now I’m signalling that there isn’t anything you can do about it?

I suppose I always sort of discount the first two. The first one not for any particularly good reason; there are people this clueless out there.  The second one because in my experience we all edit the internal recording of our lives to not have to acknowledge things like this.  It is the last two that I usually settle on.  I suppose my other question is why bother doing the wave at all in this context? Why not just have the good grace to be embarrassed by what you just did?

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