Keep The Courtesy Wave Alive

Is it possible there are people out there who don’t know what a courtesy wave is? I guess it’s possible. I grew up thinking everyone knew about it and everyone did it, but as time has passed, I’ve come to realize some folks still don’t know. Are we witnessing the slow death of the courtesy wave?

A courtesy wave is a hand wave or gesture a driver or pedestrian offers as an expression of gratitude for a kindness on the road, or as an expression of apology after a mistake.

When I was growing up, courtesy waves were commonplace. Everybody did it, as far as I knew. I remember both my parents being courtesy wavers, and my brother and I became courtesy wavers, as well. It’s just what we do. Or at least that’s what I thought. It seems fewer people offer the courtesy wave these days.

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Last week, when I was driving to school, a man was trying to back out of his driveway into the street, but traffic made it difficult for him. I stopped so he could get out. He backed out of his driveway and drove away…no courtesy wave. He certainly didn’t owe me anything, since I did it out of the kindness of my heart, but really? I couldn’t believe it! I stopped traffic for him, and he couldn’t just hold up his hand to thank me? That’s like someone holding open a door for you and you don’t say “thank you”! Come on, dude! Just give me the wave!

Another afternoon, I was picking up my child from a crowded place. The car next to me and I allowed a car to pass in front of us, so he could exit. He didn’t even look at us, much less give a courtesy wave. I looked over at the driver of the car next to me and recognized him, so I put down my window and said, “Wow. A courtesy wave would have been nice.” He responded, “I thought the exact same thing!”

But it happens all the time. I think there are way fewer courtesy wavers than there used to be. I don’t get mad, but I often wonder if they know how great the courtesy wave is. Courtesy waves carry a lot of power, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never know. They have the power to make someone feel appreciated; or to apologize; or to offer forgiveness.

I’m an extreme courtesy waver. My courtesy wave is one long continuous wave from different angles…or accompanied by a “thank you” if I’m a pedestrian. I offer that wave in different situations. Here are some examples:

  • If I’m trying to walk into Target, even if I’m in the crosswalk, and you stop to let me cross, I’m giving you a courtesy wave to thank you for your kindness. I’m likely going to smile and actually say, “Thank you!” I appreciate someone letting me cross. That’s how a pedestrian can use the courtesy wave.
  • As a driver, if traffic is backed up in my lane, and you let me over in front of you, you get a giant courtesy wave. In fact, chances are I will roll down my window and hang out the window to give a big wave with a big smile, and I will likely follow up with another wave over my shoulder and a wave out my sunroof. Like I said, I’m an extreme courtesy waver.
  • A courtesy wave can go a long way in bad situations too. If you cut me off in traffic and keep going, I think, “What?!?!” But if you offer a courtesy wave after, I simmer down. That courtesy wave means, to me, that you are apologizing for making that mistake. And I even give the courtesy wave of forgiveness in return. At the same time, if I accidentally cut someone off, I raise my hand for that courtesy wave as quickly as possible.

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I understand frustration in traffic. There are lots of things I dislike about driving: slow drivers in the left lane, drivers who fail to yield the right of way, people who change lanes without looking, and more, but a lot of those things can be forgiven with a courtesy wave. Sometimes slow drivers don’t realize they need to get over, but if they give me a quick wave and move over after I pass them on the right (ugh…if I’m having to pass you on the right, you’re doing it wrong), all is forgiven. I know they don’t care if I forgive them or not, but it’s civility.

Civility is good, and courtesy waves are part of that. I refuse to believe this gesture is dying. I choose to believe it is alive and well, but some folks just don’t know about it yet. Spread the word, friends…courtesy waves are powerful. They aren’t required, but they are appreciated.

***Thank you for reading Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things. If you enjoy my blog, please go “LIKE” it on Facebook.***

 

 

 

 

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Hooray for Low-Maintenance Friends!

A friend and I had some tentative plans for tonight. I texted her and asked if she was still up for it, and she explained something had come up with one of her children. She didn’t totally back out of our plans, but she knew I’d let her off the hook. I said, “I’m not going to hold your feet to the fire. You don’t have to go…no biggie.”  I’m a low-maintenance friend.

What does that mean? To me, that means that I love my friends exactly as they are. It means I don’t get mad if they have to change plans or choose to change plans.  I don’t have to talk to them every day. I don’t take it personally if they don’t return my calls, texts, or emails. I don’t “expect” them to be a certain way. I simply want them to be there for me when they can. I know real life gets in the way sometimes, and sometimes, you just want to sit on the sofa and watch some mindless television. Years ago, when we had our toddler playgroup, I told all my friends that I am a low-maintenance friend. I also told them I expect the same in return.

For example, if we have plans to go to dinner on a Tuesday night, and on Tuesday afternoon, I decide I just can’t pull it off…I call and say, “I just can’t pull it off.” And that is fine…no questions asked. My friends know they can do that with me, but I expect the same courtesy in return. If it’s an important event, it’s different…I WANT to attend important events. My friend of 20+ years, Mary Ann, uses our friendship as her example of “low-maintenance friendships.” We have the same views. It doesn’t mean one or the other of us is neglecting the friendship or taking advantage of the other. It means we can be honest and realistic. We don’t get bent out of shape about silly things. We don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s no pressure. We can be forgiving.

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Photo from Barber’s Marina in Elberta, Alabama, home of dinosaurs.

In the photo above, Mary Ann and I are looking at dinosaurs on the grounds of Barber Marina. For more information on the marina’s attractions, click here.

Here’s how I tend to look at it: we all mess up sometimes. There have been countless times I’ve messed up with friends…didn’t return calls, ran very late, accidentally didn’t show for something, or maybe I was just plain thoughtless or mean. I’m sure I’ve done worse things, and I have friends who have done all this too at some time. The great thing about low-maintenance friends? They don’t freak out. They don’t unfriend you on Facebook or give you the silent treatment. They forgive. After all, if we want to be forgiven by others, we have to be forgiving, right? You know…without sin/casting stones, right?

And frankly, it’s so much more fun to take the high road. In my younger days…meaning my teens and twenties…there were times I just couldn’t be forgiving. But I’ve learned.  There is no fun in that.  Staying angry just takes too much energy. It’s exhausting, and usually, it’s worse on the person who stays mad. It’s also simply the wrong thing to do. If I ever got mad at you in my teens or twenties, I’m no longer mad. Honestly, chances are I don’t even remember being mad.

Life is a lot more fun if you don’t take it too seriously.

One thing my mother always told me was that if I want to have good friends, I have to BE a good friend. Different people may have different ideas about what that is. But for me,  being a good friend means giving your friends the benefit of the doubt. I might be able to remember the names of everyone in my kindergarten class, but I can’t always remember where I’m supposed to be on any given day.IMG_4717

This is a roundabout way of saying “thank you” to my friend who couldn’t keep our plans tonight. Thank you for reminding me how fortunate I am to have low maintenance friends. Thank you for being up front with me about tonight. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not. Right after she told me she couldn’t go, I texted her back and said, “I totally get it.” It turned into a love fest when she texted back saying, “I don’t deserve you.”  I texted back the same thing, and then she texted, “I enjoy having a low maintenance friend.”

And that was what prompted me to write this today.

In fact, THANK YOU to all my low maintenance friends out there. You know who you are. You’re the friend with whom I haven’t spoken in a few months, but you know I still love you. You’re the friend who didn’t return my call last week, but we’re cool. You’re the friend who didn’t care when I didn’t want to go to a concert with you. YOU ARE MY FRIEND.25396091_10215007394683148_3322438155130201318_n

Here’s one thing I know for sure about my low maintenance friends: you would drop everything to help me if I needed your help, and you wouldn’t complain. You would drive a long way to pick me up, or drive to New Orleans with me to get my passport renewed, or babysit my child in an emergency.  In fact, you’ve likely done it before.

My friends know I often say, “I do not do high maintenance friendships.” And it’s true. Too much drama? No thanks. There is nothing worse to me than a friendship that feels like work because we are always having to apologize to each other, or because the friend is too needy. I have been known to walk away from a friendship like that. While I love to think I can get along with virtually everyone, I can’t.

I can’t get along with complainers, whiners,  negative people, people who try to control me, or high maintenance friends. I don’t need that in my life, and at 50 (almost 51), I won’t even try anymore. It wears me out. It…is…exhausting.

Life is too short.

So, if you consider yourself a low maintenance friend, we would likely get along. Let’s hang out! But if I don’t return your call in a timely fashion, don’t freak out.

BIG gift box tradition

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We all have our own traditions. Some of our traditions are similar, but don’t we all have some that are just our own?

My mother and her friend, Polly, used to love sending BIG boxes of little gifts. Some might think they were traditional “care packages,” but they were more than that. They would send them to say “thank you” or “congratulations,” when someone had a baby, to a friend who was sick, to a family member who needed a pick-me-up, and often, for no reason at all. We considered it a tradition. I remember receiving gigantic shipping boxes (the kind people use to pack things when they move) FULL of stuff…sometimes there might have been 50 little things in one box! They were so much fun to receive, so it is something I have continued. Once I started putting them together, I realized how much fun it is!

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There are all sorts of ways to put these gift boxes together. The main thing is to consider the recipient and the message you want to convey. You can make it about the recipient, or you can just make it completely silly.

Recently I visited another city, and a friend hooked me up with some special things to do in her city. Since she has never visited Charlotte (and I would love for her to visit), when I got home, I put together a gift box of Charlotte/North Carolina products. Some of it was to entice her into visiting: a big coffee table book with beautiful photos of Charlotte, a copy of Our State Magazine, and some bourbon-infused honey bottled in Charlotte (it’s so good, she might walk to Charlotte for it!). I added some fun Charlotte stuff too: highball glasses with “704” on them, a North Carolina embroidered dish towel, and a Charlotte t-shirt with a dead penguin on it (For the story behind the dead penguin, click here. To order a t-shirt, click here.)Then, I added some things that have nothing to do with Charlotte, but they are  some of my favorite small gifts.

IMG_0149One of the favorite things I included was a Couch Guest Book. It’s completely silly. When I first saw it in Paper Skyscraper in Charlotte, I found it amusing, and then I remembered sitting on the couch in my friend’s office.  In this guest book, the pages aren’t blank. There are questions, one of which is, “What are you thinking (while sitting on the couch)?” It also asks who is with you and some other silly questions. I filled out the first page and put the book in the box. You can find them at Paper Skyscraper on East Blvd, in Charlotte, or order one here.

IMG_5523Another of my favorite things I sent her was a Dry Divas Shower Cap. It had nothing to do with my visit, but I posted about it on Instagram back on December 14. Some of you thought I was nuts. How can a shower cap be post-worthy? Well, this one is. I’ve purchased lots of shower caps, and none of them kept all my hair secure. I’ve used those dreadful hotel shower caps that some people use to cover food in their refrigerators. Maybe they work for covering food, but they don’t keep hair dry. I have a lot of hair, so I need a good shower cap that fits snugly and holds up in steam. The Dry Divas Shower Cap does, and it looks pretty too, as they are all styled in a pretty print with a jewel on the front. You can buy them directly from drydivas.com here, but some are on sale right now at Neiman Marcus here.

Mother and  Polly were really good at finding little knick-knacks, and they were always on the lookout for things when they were out. I try to tailor the knick-knacks to the recipient, just as they did. When I was in college, my mother sent me big boxes all the time. Often they contained nonperishable snacks, a t-shirt, some socks, cough drops, pens, candy, pencils, erasers, magazines, books…anything she thought I might use. Most of the time, she added some silly things to make me laugh…silly sleep shirts or crazy socks. I loved coming in from class and finding a big box from her, because I knew it would be full of fun!

kira-auf-der-heide-330895.jpg We all have those friends and family members who are difficult to categorize. Here are some themes to consider: college teams, professional teams, favorite sports, favorite foods, hobbies (golf, tennis, travel, reading, knitting, etc), occupation…the possibilities are endless. Maybe there is a holiday or pseudo-holiday coming up…even if it’s just Groundhog Day, you can come up with something. Once, when I knew a friend had a big European vacation coming up, I made of box of travel-related items (sewing kit, compass, travel size toiletries, sleep mask, ear plugs, etc), and I since I had some map wrapping paper, I wrapped each gift individually.

Whatever you do, stuff it full of goodies. It’s what Mother and Polly used to do. It was always fun to dig through the boxes. The more you can stuff in there, the more fun it is for the recipient.

Most of all, I love this tradition, because it brings JOY to the person on the receiving end. I feel sure most people are flattered someone assembled a crazy gift box for them.

If you decide to send a big gift box, you will get as much joy as the recipient. As always,  please share your ideas with me. I’m always looking for unique things to add to gift boxes.

After all, what’s more fun than receiving a gigantic box full of gifts?!

Sending one.

XOXO,

Kelly

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