Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Wave

Having lived most of my life in small towns or the rural countryside, I'm familiar with The Wave. I'm not sure that people who come from larger towns or cities always understand The Wave, or its importance. I'm not talking about The Wave that we do as fans at football games, but The Wave that is as common as corn and soybeans out in the country; or used to be. The wave is something you just naturally share with those you pass as you drive down our little country roads. Men, especially those that wear caps and drive pick-up trucks, can almost always be counted on to offer the wave. For some reason, women tend to be a bit more reserved with the wave, especially if they don't know you. Usually, the wave isn't full of motion, but is just a raise of the hand.

This simple gesture, however, can be packed full of meaning. Most often, it just means "Hello, neighbor." And you don't even have to be a true neighbor to warrant a wave. The simple fact you are sharing a country road with a waver often earns you temporary good neighbor status. Sometimes, the wave means "Thank you." You should always offer a wave when any oncoming traffic pulls over to allow you to cross that one-lane bridge first. The thank you wave was once very common, but these days I sometimes find myself feeling a little bit slighted when yielding to oncoming cars who come on across as though it's their right to go first without offering so much as a polite nod, yet alone a wave.

The wave can also mean "I'm sorry." The "I'm sorry" wave is usually offered when a driver makes a mistake, such as accidentally pulling out in front of you a bit too close, or something like that. I received an I'm Sorry Wave today. While crossing our little, gravel, windy, narrow, country road after retrieving our mail from the mailbox, I was somewhat startled by a very large trash truck suddenly coming into sight and heading toward me at what seemed a very high rate of speed. Our little road will get you where you are going, but it's not built for speed! Upon spotting me, however, the driver quickly slowed down and no doubt caught my disapproving gaze. He then did the only thing he could really do, short of stopping and offering a formal apology. . . he waved. And yes, I waved back. Somehow, that simple gesture told me that he realized he was driving his big old truck too fast, and that he was truly sorry for that. All that, in a simple raise of the hand. And when only a moment prior I was a bit scared and a bit angry, The Wave somehow smoothed things over between us. Best of all, I have a feeling that if our paths cross again on this little road in the future, the driver won't be going quite so fast. But if he is, I may offer up a "Modified Wave," but that's a topic for another day!