No Recognition = Road Rage: A Tale of Driving with My Wife

By Thad Peterson

My lovely wife is able to find plenty of pet peeves when it comes to me. But when it comes to strangers, she’s a pretty accepting person.

However, in an odd quirk of personality, there’s something that sometimes happens – or more to the point, doesn’t happen – when she’s driving that irks her to no end. Given that I’ve witnessed this hundreds of times, I have to think most people have experienced the scenario at least a few times. Let me describe it, and my guess is you’ll be able to relate.

Imagine you’re driving down the road on a main thoroughfare. There’s a decent amount of traffic, and up ahead you’re going to take a left turn. As you approach the road where you’re going to turn, you notice a line of cars on the road you’re about to turn onto. They’re all lined up to take left-hand turns, but they can’t catch a break in the traffic.

We’ve all been in a line of cars like that, and we all know it can fray the nerves a bit.  So in a display of driver’s benevolence, you relinquish your legal “right of way,” and you let a car or two pull out and take a left turn onto the main thoroughfare from which you’re about to turn.

So my wife – being the good person she is – is prone to these acts of kindness. Unfortunately, it often ends in profanity-laced outbursts on her part.

Why? Because the driver of the car that she let in front of her neglected to give the simple wave of the hand and nod of the head acknowledging the small favor she had just done for a stranger.

While this kind of thing irks me a bit, I’ve always found it a bit comical just how much it seems to irritate her.

So when the most recent instance of this occurred the other day as we were driving, I indulged her rant.  I then waited for a strategic amount of time, and then naively wondered aloud, “I wonder why exactly that gets you so mad.”

Oddly, it kind of stumped her. She gave some explanations – “It’s just common courtesy”, “I would have waved back to them” – but every time I scratched away at those explanations, she realized they weren’t the precise reasons this scenario bothers her so much.

Finally, I asked, “Do you think it all boils down to the fact that you did something nice, and then you didn’t even get recognized for it.”

“Yep,” she said. “That’s exactly it.”

Surely, that same sentiment applies to many facets of our daily lives. A little recognition goes a long way.

I encourage you not to be one of those people who makes it too little. I also invite you to watch Brian Regan’s hilarious (and family-friendly) riff on people who don’t give quite enough thanks on the roadways (the joke starts at about 1:09 on the video). Happy driving everyone!


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