Possibly I am the last person on earth to figure this out. The driveway from my apartment building’s garage opens onto Colespring Road. When traffic is heavy (usually), it can take five or six minutes for somebody to let me out into the street.
But I have now cracked the code. When I roll down my driver’s side window, so people in the other cars can see my face, they make space for me. Just like that. It almost always works.
It’s the simple power of a human face.
I’ve noticed a similar effect riding the bus or Metro. Keep your head down and – except when it’s very crowded — no one sits next to you. (Some may say this is the desired effect.) But look up and make eye contact, and it’s an invitation. You just seem nicer.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to put a premium on nice. I’m pretty sure there are people in my past who could tell you stories about how not-nice I once was. Hopefully, I’ve learned some lessons along the way. I might still grate on some people’s nerves, but at least I’m nice about it.