Five times a week I drive to class on a semi-deserted six-lane truck road. It’s usually fairly empty in the early mornings; I rarely see more than a handful of vehicles on my half-hour commute.
Most of the motor vehicles on this road are, as you might expect, trucks. They generally hang out in the slow lanes, chugging along to their mysterious destinations, hauling their mysterious cargos. I don’t often pay much attention to these behemoths: my early-morning journey is a time to relax, to take a deep breath, and to slow down before things get too fast.
A few days ago, I was slightly more alert than most mornings. I decided to focus on the trucks to my right as I meandered past them. I was counting tires, guessing contents and memorizing number plates. As I overtook each lorry, I would casually glance out of my window to hold the gaze of the driver within.
This was not an exciting game. With each passing peek, I received only a bored or stern or tired gaze in return.
One truck, however, changed my morning. As I pulled up alongside the driver, I threw out my typical expressionless stare, only to be jolted awake by a magnificent, toothy grin aimed back at me.
I was shocked.
I did a double take, to make sure I hadn't imagined this phenomenon. But there it was, accompanied this time by a friendly wave! I smiled back, and raised my hand nervously as my new friend disappeared behind me. This exchange lasted a few seconds at most, but it was enough to rip me from my bubble of bullshit; enough to change my outlook.
That simple gesture made me forget completely all of the worries and concerns and fears facing me ahead. I was, for a few minutes, overjoyed. I was laughing! I smiled and waved at the next driver I passed. He faltered at first, and then beamed back. And the next driver too. It was contagious!
For couple of seconds, a couple of facial muscles and a small wave. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to make a day better. A kind “hello” or a soft “how are you?” can have the same effect. It seems easy enough, but I get it. We’re all busy with our lives, and we forget sometimes that the people around us are trying to get through their own lives too.