Had a pleasant experience while driving today. On a busy street I let a car come in from a sidestreet. Just being a good boy scout. Then I turned into a gas station to fill up. As I’m standing there holding the handle on the gas pump, a guy walked by and said, “Thanks for letting me in.” I stared at him blankly, having already forgotten about letting the guy in to traffic. It turns out we both turned into the same gas station and he remembered my car. Now that’s something that doesn’t happen often, getting thanked by someone you’ve let cut in front of you on the road. Sometimes you get the wave in the rearview mirror from the other driver, but that doesn’t even happen very much. I usually say “you’re welcome very much” in a sarcastic tone to the person who doesn’t acknowledge that I’ve done them a kindness. On the other hand, you shouldn’t expect a thank you for a kindness, I suppose. But of course we do want to be thanked. Just human nature.
Then I said, “Well, I don’t understand why that doesn’t happen more often. Are people in such a rush that they can’t spare five seconds to let someone else in?”
“Yes, it’s a strange thing.”
But then I thought to myself: what if I had been in more of a rush, what if I had had an argument with someone before getting in the car, what if some other driver had just pissed me off? It would have all been different. I might not have let this guy in. And then I wouldn’t have gotten the “thank you” from him. That piece of positive reinforcement. Now, I generally try to let cars in when I can, but you can bet I’m going to try harder now that I’ve actually been thanked by someone for doing it.