Margaret had my attention.
“Wave!” she said, jerking her head toward the tough-looking pickup truck rumbling over the washboard in our direction.
We were walking along a gravel road in Northern BC, just down from the farm where she grew up. I was daydreaming, lost in a daze of wild grasses, fragrant spring flowers, and breezes whispering secrets to each other in the tree-tops.
“Uh, who’s that?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter. Around here, when you see someone, you wave .”
So we waved and the middle-aged driver in his checked shirt and baseball cap smiled and waved back at us through his dusty windshield.
It felt good. In a place where your nearest neighbour lives several miles down the road you rejoice in the camaraderie of simply meeting someone else in the same little remote piece of the planet.
We don’t wave enough.
I’ve been part of a few “waving communities”. Back in my motorcycle days, we bikers used to wave as we passed each other on the road. It didn’t matter what you rode – small, or big, or really tough. Your hand flashed out as you passed the other rider. A gloved hand rose in reply. A common bond acknowledged.
During the early ’70s, you would often see Volkswagen owners wave at one another – smug signs of mutual approval by the drivers of these efficient, unconventional autos in a world of gas-guzzling, exhaust-belching V-8’s. Since then the Volkswagen has changed. No longer the commuter car of the nonconformist, it’s now a mainstream vehicle, and the wave has become an almost-forgotten memory.
There is still the workplace related wave. Even now, we bus drivers wave at each other: a workplace bond, since even though we work alone, we are not truly working solo. From the number of waves I give and get during a work day, I know I’m part of a pretty big team.
And we can all take part in the traffic wave – that ‘thank you’ wave to another driver when they open up a little needed space for us when we have to change lanes or pull into traffic.
City driving can easily make you crazy, especially if you try to isolate yourself from the rest of the world – pretending that you’re not bound and constrained by that mass of creeping, crawling cars, trucks, and buses surrounding you, and resenting the fact that you are.
We’re all captives in rush hour. A little consideration is appreciated. A little acknowledgment is especially prized.
We don’t wave enough.