Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Strange habit.

I don't know why, but whenever I'm driving down a lonely dirt road, way out past where the buses don't run, and I pass another vehicle coming in the opposite direction, I wave. I have no idea why. I mean, I don't know the other driver from Adam's house cat. Maybe it's a holdover from the old place in Knoxville, where the only people I'd encounter on the windy lane leading down onto the peninsula were friends or neighbors.

Anyhow, even when you don't know them from Adam's house cat, you know what? They wave back. It's probably just confused reflex on their part, but it makes me smile.

39 comments:

Stranger said...

Back when Emily Post came in a big green book and was in every respectable household, men nodded to other men when they met. And men tipped their hat to women when they met. And waved to anyone too far away to notice a nod or a hat tip.

That courtesy went out when the Boomers came in. Along with Emily.

It would be nice to bring both of them back. As well as hats. Handy things, hats.

Stranger

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

It's just something done in the area of dirt roads in the countryside. Always did it in southern Maryland, or my parents and grandparent before me. The other driver always did it back.

Will Brown said...

That's just one of the primary tests for locating the rural/urban boundary Tam. I think it a mistake to read more into it than simple acknowledgement though. It looks friendly enough, but so does that offer of candy and a ride, little girl.

I know, that's what the heater's for ...

paul said...

Here in Mordor, within 30 miles of Daleytown, we too wave to one another. Will Brown is right, it weeds out the newcomers from us born and raised here.

Moriarty said...

On first moving to rural southern Idaho, my mother-in-law wasn't yet in the habit of waving. That changed when a local rancher followed her to town and gently pointed out that some people might take her to be rude if she didn't wave back.

One thing I miss about the Old Days around here is seeing a couple of ranchers having a impromptu high-level conference on the shoulder after waving, passing each other, then backing up and pulling over on a country road.

(I will confess to a certain sense of dread when I was the passenger and my father was the rancher. Those affairs could take hours.)

Anonymous said...

Probably some hidden instinct to allow you to identify yourself as a non-bear.

Shootin' Buddy

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Wait, you mean there are people who don't know that's basic courtesy? Next thing you're going to tell me is that the Californicators and other newcomers don't realize that they're supposed to look a man or woman in the eyes when talking to them, use a firm handshake, and take off their hats when the pledge of allegiance is recited, national anthem is sung, the gathering is opening with prayer, or the armed service of your prior service or passionate support (especially the Coast Guard, God bless them) goes by in the Independance Day parade.

Of course, this may explain why they fail to nod to people on the street and hold open doors for ladies - ignorance, not just plain rudeness. Am I supposed to be nicer to them because they're too ignorant to know better, or not because they're too idiotic and self-centered to learn?

BobG said...

Sounds normal for people around here, in spite of all the Californians that have moved in. Also any time you're stopped on a dirt road and it isn't obvious what your doing, someone will usually stop to see if you need help.

Themadlemming said...

I've lived in Georgia my entire life and I have a friend originally from Detroit. When he first arrived here, about ten years ago, he was amazed at how many of us would acknowledge total strangers who made eye contact with us.

DirtCrashr said...

When you were doing the motorcycle street-thing did you wave to other riders? I used to get wrist-ache when I was, and still did it reflexively while driving for a couple weeks. Harley guys never wave back to sport-riders.
I wave and nod to people around here and get it back, but a smallish central silicon valley town isn't the Big City.

Stuart the Viking said...

"Probably some hidden instinct to allow you to identify yourself as a non-bear.

Shootin' Buddy"


I hope you aren't implying that Tam could be mistaken for a bear! Wait... on second thought. Tam, were you wearing your wookie suit out and about again? I know it's warm, but geesh, theres a time and place...

s

wv: phewo, The sound made by someone who accidentally gets wookie fur from her wookie suit in her mouth.

Adrian K said...

I've spent too many years here in Pugetopolis, but it is SO refreshing to go visit Eastern Oregon where waving is the norm.

They even wave to this particular ugly, grimy, bug-covered sportbike rider if I wave first.

Stuart the Viking said...

I grew up out there on the dirt roads of rural America. We waved at everyone because it was considered polite and, as Stranger pointed out, I grew up nodding to people I came across face to face. I never did much hat tipping to the ladies because I have never been one to wear a hat. Well, I guess there was a few years way back when and I did some hat tipping then, but I don't generally wear one. Mostly because I grew up that it was rude to wear a hat indoors and it was such a pain to carry it around.

Now that I live down in Orlando Florida, I think people think I'm weird with all the nodding and waving and such, but old habbits die hard.

s

bluesun said...

In Montana they call it the "Montana Salute." You could probably insert your area.

Laughingdog said...

When I lived in the country, that was just what everyone did, whether you knew them or not. So the transition to doing it on my motorcycle to other riders wasn't a big thing. I have found that, at least in this area, the only thing on two wheels that no one waves back to are the moped/scooter riders. I've never had a Harley rider not wave back when riding my old street bike or my current dual-sport.

Ed Foster said...

I always did the wave and honk thing on the twisty one lane blacktop of Killingworth CT as a kid, but that may have been due to the fact that 'purt near everyone up and down the road was blood kin.

Good thing about living in a large rural Mick family spread out along several miles of forest road, come 5 o'clock I could walk into any of 7 or 8 houses and sit down to dinner.

Bad thing was that any blood kin more than 7 or 8 years older could fetch me one up alongside the ear if he or she thought I was being snotty. A trade off.

Hey Tammy. Am I getting you down here for a monster steak at Angelico's and a tour of the shooting iron factory before they hie your kiester back out to the flat places? Drop me a line at my e-mail. Ed.

Ed Rasimus said...

There is some technique involved as well. On those lane-and-a-half back country roads you drive with your hand draped on the top of the steering wheel. The wave is accomplished with a single lifting of the index finger of that hand. Not more than half way. Mandatory in pick-up trucks, optional in sedans. Ignored in soccer mom vans because they have their cell-phones plastered to their ears.

DJ said...

Here in rural Oklahoma, it's just ordinary good manners.

Buzz said...

Trade in that BMW on a real convertible and experience waves like you've never experienced before.
I suggest a TJ, not a JK. JK ranks have been infiltrated with soccer moms and mall crawling posers. (I know, since I have a 4-door JK and often get snubbed unless I'm doorless and covered in mud.)

Melody Byrne said...

Here in North Idaho it's the height of rudeness to not wave to your fellow locals. Rude to the point that, at one point, one of my neighbors apologized for a time in which she failed to wave to me because she "didn't recognize my rig."

Think of it as the rural equivalent of the neighborhood watch keeping an eye out for suspicious vehicles.

TimP said...

Having lived in small towns and large towns I always just thought of this as a common curtesy, that you just don't do in crowded areas because you'd be jerking your hand up and down all day and looking like a twit. :-)

Anonymous said...

In rural Pa and So. KY it would be rude not to wave to someone who makes eye contact while driving.

I would be impolite not to say hello or "Mornin" to folks while getting coffee.

It would be unthinkable to drive by a disabled car on a country road with out checking to see if they need help.

The thing that bothered my KY coworkers when we went to NYC was no one would look them in the eye. They found it very troubling.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

It's just a drive-by handshake, with all that that implies.

AT

Keads said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keads said...

Not a strange habit, just one that has faded in time depending on where you are. I can go ten miles south and it is expected. Go much further north into the great unwashed in southwestern VA and it is de rigueur.

Road trip from this summer invoking this quaint custom is here.

reflectoscope said...

You know what is fun? Waving at someone in traffic, and leaving they to wonder if they know you or not.

I mean, if you aren't busy waving to people you do know.

Jim

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's apopulation density dependent thing.

Loose Gravel said...

"It's just a drive-by handshake, with all that that implies."

That pretty much sums it up around here. The ones that wave are the same ones who will stop and help you change a flat or loan (read "give") you a gallon of chainsaw fuel to get to the station down the road. After a storm, they're the same ones who'll be using that ever-present chainsaw to clear the road at oh-dark-thirty on their way to work. Not just the truck drivers; I once witnessed the above scene being performed out of the back of a Ford Pinto. Much of rural America is still a community, not a "neighborhood".

Jeffro said...

If I wave and you don't wave back, I let you know you're number one.

Anonymous said...

The handshake or wave:

Just a friendly acknowledgement.

Plus, an empty and extended weapon hand is always a good sign.

AT

Anonymous said...

A college friend just moved back to the college town from New Jersey and part of his reasons was that he could wave to people and have them wave back. I went up with him to drive his car back while he brought a second truck back and while sitting on his porch a woman walked by with her dog. She didn't howdy me back.

It's not a bad habit to have.

Anonymous said...

Here in Kansas, I find that you can ID whole categories of folks by the way they wave. The mostly-retired farmers lift the pointer finger, the not-quite-retired farmers lift two, the young guys and gals wave with the whole hand, and the little old ladies hold their hands up at shoulder height and wave their fingers.

Occasionally, you come across somebody who tosses you a salute with two fingers.

Oh, and I almost forgot. If you meet a really taciturn farmer, he won’t wave, he will nod his head slowly once, while keeping eye contact. If he nods down-and-then-up, the proper response is to nod back up-and-then-down.

My family had this whole conversation over dinner this evening. Strange how great minds think alike!

Mark Alger said...

It's not just a country thing. Here in Cincinnati, folks from the BIG cities constantly remark on how friendly people are and how total strangers will "Hellohowareyou" them. Totally amazing.

I imagine it could be a bit disconcerting to a New Yawker just in for P&G when a hot blonde with a great kick laps him on Grandin Road at Oh-my-god-thirty in the morning and has enough breath to get out, "Hey! Howzitgoin'?"

M

Anonymous said...

My brother and I were returning from Boomershoot in Idaho. He was driving his freshly restored '68 Plymouth Fury III, and we were driving along with the windows down enjoying the scenery. While we were still up on the plateau, we came around a corner and an old farmer smiled and waved to us from his front yard as if we were the best of neighbors. Of course, having been raised to be gentleman, we smiled and waved right back. I think it's the way people used to be raised before the 60's generation came along.

BoxStockRacer

Julie said...

Definitely the standard mode of behaviour here in Western Australia on all country / outback roads.

As is stopping to check that everyone's okay if their car is stopped beside the road (which was quite, um, interesting when the girls were young and we did lots of long country trips).

wrm said...

Over here it's an (insert hard-to-maintain-car-of-choice) thing, mostly. Especially a Land-Rover thing. With Land-Rovers there's an added twist, in that new (post around '85 or so) Land-Rovers don't count, unless they wave first.

These days I don't drive the Rand-Lover enough, I fear people might think I'm rude.

But I do get some strange stares from Land-Rover people when I drive the "normal" car and forget, and wave at them...

WV: bewave. Fitting.

Anonymous said...

Out here, pickups wave, cars with older drivers wave and we ignore the SUVs - they never wave. Everyone on back roads waves, some folks on the middlin' state roads waves, and we don't worry about it on the US highways. I agree, it is a way of acknowledging the existence of the other driver.

And I've been guilty of the "side of the road high-level conference" on occasion. It starts with a wave, then a "howdy. How's your folks?" And once it gets into wheat or cattle, you might as well settle in with a book because we're gonna be here for a while!
LittleRed1

Just My 2¢ said...

Anonymous said:
"Out here, pickups wave, cars with older drivers wave and we ignore the SUVs - they never wave. Everyone on back roads waves, some folks on the middlin' state roads waves, and we don't worry about it on the US highways. I agree, it is a way of acknowledging the existence of the other driver."

This person speaks truth. It'd be nice if the yuppies in their SUVs would wave more often. Once upon a time, when everybody waved, my old Blazer fuel pump died. A ranch hand towed me into the closest town with a garage. When waving started to die, so did stopping to help a stranded motorist. Keep it up!

danontherock said...

Everybody still waves on the backroads around here. If you are broken down they stop. If you are broken down long there will soon be a party

regards
Dan