Dear Western Australian drivers (may be applicable to drivers in other locales),
Hi, you probably don’t know me. I’m that guy sitting in the oncoming lane. I know you haven’t noticed me, because you’re trash texting your mate about how the Eagles will probably choke at the pointy end again (please tell me they won’t, but tat is the subject for a different letter)!
This letter could be about a number of different things: I could talk about the importance of keeping left on the freeway unless you’re actually – legitimately – overtaking. That would be, based on my experiences, a valuable topic, but it would be futile because you don’t notice my horns an flashing headlights as you dawdle in front of me at 85 in the 110 zone on the way to Mandurah. Similarly,I could add to the cacophony of dribble about how to merge onto a freeway without slowing to 40 and holding up 1000 or so commuters, but I’m not here to work miracles. I’m not even here to voice my (very strong) opinions on those of you who think it’s okay drive t 80 across the Mount Henry Bridge – ever (here’s a quick tip – it isn’t). This particular open letter is about something that is – in many ways – far more important these other traffic gripes. Today I want to draw your attention to The Wave.
“Why would I wave at another car” you might ask? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret – other cars have people in them too! Now I’m not suggesting that grin maniacally and shake our hands off at every acceleration impaired road obstacle in Perth – I’m talking about the sacred practice of acknowledging an oncoming driver while travelling.
I would sincerely hope that readers of my blog would question why I need to raise this point, because if you don’t partake in this vital social affirmation, I question how you managed to learn to read. The Travel Wave, as I shall henceforth be labelled is far more important than you might think. It might might not quite be the glue that holds society together as I’m suggesting, but when it comes to overland travel, there is no better way to signal your worth as a human being than raising a finger (any other than the middle) in recognition of an oncoming road user.
Acknowledging the drivers of other vehicles shows that you are passing more than just a machine. It lets people know that you realise that you are meeting and crossing paths with another (or another group of) human being on your overland wanderings. That, in itself, is enough to justify the practise, but there is much more this symbolic gesture than the simple recognition of another wandering soul.
The Wave can be performed by any member of a car, bus, truck, bike or other means o land transport and, like the urban equivalent (the apology/ thank you wave), it proves your worth as a member of society. The wave confirms your identity as a traveller on a journey across our wide land and it symbolizes a willingness to step out into the world and risk everything to chase the horizon. There are a hundred reasons that the Travel Wave is a vital part of overland travel, but the most important reason – and the reason for this open letter to drivers is that it tells the oncoming river that you might not be a dickhead!
(On this trip from Perth to Karijini via Exmouth, the ratio is about 4 out of 10 and from my position in the caravan park in Tom Price, that is simply not good enough! Get it together Western Australia!)