Random Waving

 

Most days I drive to work on a not too busy road along the edge of a large suburb. For part of the drive, there is a trail (we used to call them sidewalks) along the road. A couple of months ago I began to see a person (not sure if it is a woman or man, but I think he is male) walking along the trail and he waved at me. I really don’t know anyone in this city, so I was a little startled.  Day after day, as I started to watch for him, I noticed he waved at all the cars. The speed limit is 55 on this road, so he’s a little hard to spot (especially in these dark mornings), but I started waving back. I don’t know if he can see me waving, but I do it anyway. I’m not sure it matters to him if anyone waves back.

Many thoughts crowded in — was he a little looney, a little lonely, or just wanting to acknowledge his fellow human beings. After all, only humans wave (except maybe for some dogs). I think we need to remember that it is the little things that make a difference to us as humans. The soft touch on your arm when you are grieving, the hugs you give to your loved ones, a smile, a kind word, a wave of the hand. Those are the things that make us feel loved and wanted as fellow travelers in this crazy society.

Today he was wearing a Santa Suit. I’m still smiling.

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  1. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Human connection; so important! Lovely story.

    • #1
  2. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    I was filling up my truck the other day and my dog was being her usual raucous self out the back window. As I started to pull away, I caught sight of an elderly lady sitting in the passenger seat of a car in the next lane smiling at either me or the dog or both. I gave her a wave, she waved back and the feeling it gave me lasted all day. 

    When I lived in rural Missouri, etiquette required that if you were driving a pickup truck, you had to give an index finger wave to any pickup that passed you going the other way. I got called out one day for failing to do that.

    • #2
  3. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    We have many walkers all during the day in our neighborhood and nearby subdivisions. Many are wavers and we always wave back. It does feel good.

    • #3
  4. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    When we moved to small town Mississippi (USAF) my wife who had spent her formative years in upstate NY asked me “Why are those people waving to us?  We don’t know them.”  Almost 40 years later she is fully aware of proper etiquette as a naturalized Texan.

    When we visit my mom up in Maine we typically say hello to people on the walking trail in Portland and it’s sort of funny to watch the reactions.  Maybe 5 percent respond with hello, another 25 percent studiously ignore us and the rest seem paralyzed and just stare. 

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Southron who moves up north and is confusing people?

    • #5
  6. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Southron who moves up north and is confusing people?

    I have worked with people with special needs for many years now. Some just need to connect with everyone. That was my first thought. But certainly is could just be someone who is trying to make someone else’s day a little better, be they from the South or not. I’m not sure the motivation behind the gesture is important. Could just be altruism.

    • #6
  7. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    When we moved to small town Mississippi (USAF) my wife who had spent her formative years in upstate NY asked me “Why are those people waving to us? We don’t know them.” Almost 40 years later she is fully aware of proper etiquette as a naturalized Texan.

    When we visit my mom up in Maine we typically say hello to people on the walking trail in Portland and it’s sort of funny to watch the reactions. Maybe 5 percent respond with hello, another 25 percent studiously ignore us and the rest seem paralyzed and just stare.

    Exactly what happened when we moved to Virginia 13 years ago. Everyone waves to everyone else; cars, walkers, runners, etc.

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Illiniguy (View Comment):
    When I lived in rural Missouri, etiquette required that if you were driving a pickup truck, you had to give an index finger wave to any pickup that passed you going the other way. I got called out one day for failing to do that.

    Whatever happened to the two-finger wave from the steering wheel. Not a Missouri thing? 

    • #8
  9. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I’ve just spent the week with my daughter and her three daughters. We walked daily in my neighborhood to “see what’s going on”. The six year old and five year old holler a cheerful “hello” to everyone they see. Quite often a “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Merry Christmas” is included (depending on what decorations they’ve just seen)

    I’m pretty sure others enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I do.

    • #9
  10. DoubleDare Member
    DoubleDare
    @DoubleDare

    I was in the local H-E-B (that’s Texan for “grocery store you love and hope will always be there”) a few weeks back, maneuvering my cart through a particularly narrow section, and a little girl – maybe 5 – suddenly ran in front of the cart, forcing me to stop abruptly.

    So she looked up at me (I’m 6’2) with this half-mischievous smile, maybe trying to figure out if I was angry. And when I smiled back, her smile broadened and it was as if we were in on a little joke together. It was very cute, and really kind of touching.

    It stayed with me for awhile and then I realized that the two of us were among a tiny minority in the store who weren’t wearing masks. And if either of us had been, we would have missed that connection entirely.

    Seems like the pandemic has taken a lot of those brief, friendly connections with strangers – waving, smiling, or even just nodding hello – away from us. I hope we get those back.

    • #10
  11. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    DoubleDare (View Comment):
    It stayed with me for awhile and then I realized that the two of us were among a tiny minority in the store who weren’t wearing masks.

    Where are you?  The situation with masks is the exact opposite where we live.

    • #11
  12. DoubleDare Member
    DoubleDare
    @DoubleDare

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    DoubleDare (View Comment):
    It stayed with me for awhile and then I realized that the two of us were among a tiny minority in the store who weren’t wearing masks.

    Where are you? The situation with masks is the exact opposite where we live.

    Northwest Austin.  It’s gotten a little better since, but still the minority in H-E-B.

    • #12
  13. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    DoubleDare (View Comment):

    Northwest Austin.  It’s gotten a little better since, but still the minority in H-E-B.

    The contrast between Kerrville and Boerne where we most often shop and our occasional forays into San Antonio can be shocking. 

    • #13
  14. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    Waving is de re rigueur to people who live and work in the woods.  When backpacking, it’s the norm, when people meet, you stop and visit for a moment.  “Where are you headed?” “Where are you coming from?”  “What’s ahead on the trail?” “How long have you been out?” etc.  Then you wish each other well, and move on your way.  This does not apply near  roads, and to people with little day packs.  

    Once, when visiting our grandchildren in small-town Nebraska – oh, yeah, also our son and daughter-in-law, we were in the local WalMart, shopping.  We were looking at the eggs, I think, when a lady standing nearby, saw what we were doing, and volunteered, “oh, you want this one.”  WalMart honored coupons and sales in other stores, and she had a legal – size tablet with pages of such deals.  “Here, she said, take my list.  I’m done with it.” With that, she handed us the tablet, wished us well, and went on her way.  

    At the cash register, the cashier surmised that we were from out of state.  “Where?  Where in California?”  “Oh, I know where that is!  My husband and I used to drive OTR truck, and we stopped at that rest stop often!  She asked about a couple shops, etc. in town that she had always enjoyed, etc.   We wished each other well, and moved on.  All just over checking out of a WalMart.  

    The moment you cross the California border, people and their attitudes change.  To be sure, there’s a huge difference between cities and small towns, even here.  

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I take a walk three days a week, and used to walk six days. I always waved at cars coming toward me, and said good morning to people who walked past. A couple of times in the past people have recognized me and said, “Aren’t you the lady walker in Solivita?” I love it!

    • #15
  16. Terry Mott Member
    Terry Mott
    @TerryMott

    Illiniguy (View Comment):

    I was filling up my truck the other day and my dog was being her usual raucous self out the back window. As I started to pull away, I caught sight of an elderly lady sitting in the passenger seat of a car in the next lane smiling at either me or the dog or both. I gave her a wave, she waved back and the feeling it gave me lasted all day.

    When I lived in rural Missouri, etiquette required that if you were driving a pickup truck, you had to give an index finger wave to any pickup that passed you going the other way. I got called out one day for failing to do that.

    When my wife and I were first dating, we were driving along some East Texas road near my home and I waved at an oncoming vehicle.  Thinking I must have known the driver, she asked, “Who was that?”

    “No idea,” I said.

    “Then why did you wave?”

    “It’s just something we do.  It’s how I was raised.”

    She was totally bemused, but got used to it fairly quickly.

    • #16
  17. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    We have many walkers all during the day in our neighborhood and nearby subdivisions. Many are wavers and we always wave back. It does feel good.

    The waving tradition also contributes to safety.  Helps drivers to notice pedestrians and walkers to make eye contact with drivers.  

    • #17
  18. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Illiniguy (View Comment):
    When I lived in rural Missouri, etiquette required that if you were driving a pickup truck, you had to give an index finger wave to any pickup that passed you going the other way. I got called out one day for failing to do that.

    Whatever happened to the two-finger wave from the steering wheel. Not a Missouri thing?

    The index finger wave from the steering wheel works in rural South Dakota, rural Oregon, and small-town Indiana.  

    • #18
  19. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    DoubleDare (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    DoubleDare (View Comment):
    It stayed with me for awhile and then I realized that the two of us were among a tiny minority in the store who weren’t wearing masks.

    Where are you? The situation with masks is the exact opposite where we live.

    Northwest Austin. It’s gotten a little better since, but still the minority in H-E-B.

    I hear Austin is not in Texas.  

    • #19
  20. DoubleDare Member
    DoubleDare
    @DoubleDare

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    DoubleDare (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    DoubleDare (View Comment):
    It stayed with me for awhile and then I realized that the two of us were among a tiny minority in the store who weren’t wearing masks.

    Where are you? The situation with masks is the exact opposite where we live.

    Northwest Austin. It’s gotten a little better since, but still the minority in H-E-B.

    I hear Austin is not in Texas.

    We’re trying hard to bring it back to Texas.

    • #20
  21. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Illiniguy (View Comment):
    When I lived in rural Missouri, etiquette required that if you were driving a pickup truck, you had to give an index finger wave to any pickup that passed you going the other way. I got called out one day for failing to do that.

    Whatever happened to the two-finger wave from the steering wheel. Not a Missouri thing?

    The index finger wave from the steering wheel works in rural South Dakota, rural Oregon, and small-town Indiana.

    JY recently got a motorcycle, so we’re on the road some. I’d forgotten about the required wave you give to all oncoming motorcycles. I’m in charge of the cheerful “thanks” wave when someone gives us a wide berth or lets us go in front.

    • #21
  22. Marythefifth Member
    Marythefifth
    @Marythefifth

    Forty years ago, I spent 3-4 weeks, alone, as a tourist in Ireland. I spent my days just walking anywhere I hoped to see a ruined church, a thatched house, rolling hills. Their equivalent of a wave passing in the street was to say “How are you” but with such a thick accent it was silly how long it took me to figure that out. Two rapidly spoken syllables you might spell as Hoowrya, with the R trilled. They didn’t necessarily wait for my answer. I guess it’s the same as our Howdy.

    • #22
  23. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    • #23
  24. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Illiniguy (View Comment):
    When I lived in rural Missouri, etiquette required that if you were driving a pickup truck, you had to give an index finger wave to any pickup that passed you going the other way. I got called out one day for failing to do that.

    Whatever happened to the two-finger wave from the steering wheel. Not a Missouri thing?

    No, one was sufficient. We didn’t want to get too familiar.

    • #24
  25. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    When we moved to small town Mississippi (USAF) my wife who had spent her formative years in upstate NY asked me “Why are those people waving to us? We don’t know them.” Almost 40 years later she is fully aware of proper etiquette as a naturalized Texan.

    When we visit my mom up in Maine we typically say hello to people on the walking trail in Portland and it’s sort of funny to watch the reactions. Maybe 5 percent respond with hello, another 25 percent studiously ignore us and the rest seem paralyzed and just stare.

    This.

    I live in upstate NY and have Long Island blood in my veins. The obnoxious Yankee is a stereotype for a reason. My brother, also a native New Yorker, moved to Texas ten years ago. He said the waving etiquette was the biggest change, even more than the temperature difference.

    • #25
  26. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    I have noticed that as the use of earbuds goes up the level of courtesy greetings/gestures goes down.   

    • #26