I waved my arms like I was trying to attract the attention of a rescue plane and yelled at the car in front me, “YOU’RE WELCOME!” I had just let someone merge in front of me on a crowded interstate and I didn’t get the courtesy wave.

Do you remember the courtesy wave? Do you remember how back in the olden days when you let someone merge ahead of you in traffic and they gave you the little wave? Just a simple lift of the hand that acknowledged you? It said, “Thank you. I see you. I know you’re there and that you just did me a small favor. We are in this traffic together. You’re on your way somewhere too. I know it’s not all about me.”

It seems that the courtesy wave is dead. And not just on the interstate. By installing software that allowed their cars to emit more pollutants than allowed, Volkswagen gave us the finger instead of the courtesy wave. The effect is more than simple rudeness. The New York Times estimates that Volkswagen cars spewed more than 46,000 tons of pollutants into the air since 2008, causing 106 deaths in the United States alone. (Here’s a link to that New York Times article).

Don’t the Volkswagen executives, software designers, and engineers who perpetrated this fraud understand that they breathe the same air? Do they have some secret exit that rest of us don’t know about? Do they have their own special supply of oxygen? Do they not realize that we all live on the same island? It’s called Earth. And like Gilligan and his friends we’re stuck here. NASA may have found water on Mars but I don’t think we’ll be building subdivisions there anytime soon.

Because we’re all in this together, I’ll continue to give the courtesy wave. And because I see you, I’m going to ride my bike to work today.