I’ve got to hand it to the commuters of O’ahu, if awards were handed out for freeway driving, they would win for “Most Courteous Merge” and “Most Consistent Use of the Wave/Shaka”.
The good people of this island have let me slide across three lanes of traffic to get in the right hand lane when I realized that I couldn’t make a left turn (hint: do NOT use Siri to navigate your way in Honolulu, aka The Land of No Left Turn) and had to employ the “three rights make a left” method.
More than once, the traffic on H-1 has moved me to tears, so when I can be a courteous driver and let someone into my lane (and possibly save them from having an emotional breakdown), I do, and I get “the wave” or a shaka from the local braddahs every time.
I can’t say the same for the drivers of Western Washington.
Try to merge on to any of the highways or freeways in the Pacific Northwest and undoubtedly, someone will speed up (instead of maintaining their speed like they learned in driver’s ed), causing you make some quick life or death decisions while spewing expletives.
Back home, I’ve let people into my lane, waited for the wave, and when it didn’t come, I’d think to myself, “Where the heck is the wave? I didn’t have to let you in! I could have been a typical PNW driver and sped up so I could drive right next to you when I saw your turn signal on, but I didn’t. I let you in and you can’t even acknowledge that with a simple wave?”
But here, it’s different.
Maybe it’s because O’ahu drivers know that if they get into an accident, they could potentially be the cause of the freeway shutting down for hours while HPD investigates, therefore extending the already LONG commute of thousands of drivers. That guilt alone would be enough for any driver to be as courteous and safe as possible.
Maybe it’s because in the back of our minds we know that if we’re a complete jerk to someone (on the freeway or off) that there’s a good chance that it’s your aunty’s second cousin’s first wife that makes the really good butter mochi. You just can’t burn a bridge here, this island is way too small.
Or maybe it’s the Aloha Spirit that emerges when you look over at your fellow commuter and think, “We’re all in this together.” We work, we commute and while we’re all miserable sitting in the traffic, bottom line is we know we’re blessed to have jobs and even more blessed to live here.
Yes, that must be it.