Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Random Act

Living “out here”, you learn that you should wave at oncoming traffic.  I mean, you just never know when family or friends may be headed in the opposite direction.  So…you wave!  You wave at everyone.  If you don’t, someone will take you to task.  (Particularly my kids!) Yeah, I’m serious.

Prior to our move to the Valley, I was driving our pickup southbound toward my folks’ house.  My mother and daughters were riding along and we were all talking.  Soon, it became obvious that every passing pickup driver was waving at me.  As I hesitantly waved back, I asked my mother, “WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE….do they ALL know you?”

“Oh, I don’t know why they all do that” she said.  “I really don’t like it!” My mother has lived the majority of her life in the country and yet still refers to herself as a “city girl”, so she’s not the person to ask such pressing questions. Honestly, I should have known better. Acceptance and assimilation are not among her finer points.

I began waving back, just because it seemed like the thing to do. It made me feel kind of good…like I belonged.  Later, a friend told me that the “driver-to-driver greeting” as she called it was just expected as you passed anyone, everyone on a two-lane road. So, if I’m driving…I wave.  Howdy!

I’ve done this so long that I rarely give it any thought anymore.  Any passing vehicle gets a little two-fingered salute off the top of the steering wheel.  Those folks that I consider close friends get a little more personal wave…a little finger waggle.  It is kind of amusing to watch those unfamiliar with the tradition look askance as they drive by.

Since a lot of other folks wave as well, it no longer seems out of the ordinary. I love where I live and by default, share a common bond with a great number of my fellow residents.  When we see a friend or close acquaintance on the side of the road working, we will toot the horn and wave out the window.  Anything less is considered kind of rude.

 “Oh…there’s Mr.H workin’ in his tomatoes!”  beep beep!  HEY, Bob!

Lester and Judy sittin’ on the front porch….”Hey, y’all…what’s goin’ on?”

Sam’s workin’ cows….beep, beep….WAVE!

RG’s plantin’ corn…BEEEEEP!

Hey, here comes a tractor/harvester/haywagon….WAVE!WAVE!

Beep, Beep!  Hey, Eddie!  That fence is lookin’ GOOD!

Generally, as I am driving around the county, I am so very happy to be living here, working here...  I wave at everyone, even those I don’t know personally.

There is a little house at the edge of M’brook where a little old man sits out in a lawn chair on a regular basis.  He always waves…and I always wave back.

I have never given him a whole lot of thought.   Well, I have always wondered a little about his story, but, then I drive on, intent on doing my next errand. He’s just part of the scenery, something I count on seeing on my way to town and back.

Saturday morning, as I drove to Market, he was getting his mail.  He gave me the two fingered “peace” sign as I drove by. That memory made me chuckle all day long.

As I headed home from my “town trip”, traffic was completely stopped due to the VDOT guys working to clean up the leftover Derecho mess along the side of the road. They were chipping up branches and brush and had completely stopped traffic. It was nearly lunchtime, and they were working toward their stopping point.

As the northbound traffic began to pass, a dilapidated, old pickup flagged me down.

“Hey, there sweet lady!”  It was the old, old man from the outskirts of town. As he pulled his truck close to ours, I could see that he was far older than I had thought, the effects of age and weather creased his face. “I see you drivin’ by almost every day” he said “and you always wave!  The others don’t.  Who are you?” The evidence of a past stroke slowed his speech and made conversation somewhat laborious.

We sat there and exchanged pleasantries while stopped in the middle of M’brook Road.

It occurred to me that I’ve become one of the “old folks”.  With the mindset of a slower time, some of the older folks will stop and talk in the middle of the road if the mood strikes.  It is not too unusual to come to an intersection where two old boys driving equally old pickups are catching up on neighborhood news. They slowly move out of the way for passing traffic and generally go back to their conversation with a nod and a wave the moving vehicle.

Turns out that my newfound friend is indeed quite ancient and in somewhat failing health. He lives alone and really, really appreciates the waves. But, as he said "he's gettin' along alright".

“Waaallll, I want to tell you I really appreciate ya, honey…” he said  ”….and I LOVE YOU!  You have a nice day!” his old voice wavered a little as he waved out the window as he drove on toward town.

I was stunned...I nearly cried.  I mean…who would have thought? 

                      A wave?

Is that really all it took to touch the lonely heart of another human being?  Wow.

…you better know from now on I am going to wave at every person I ever see!

                           Hey, Neighbor!!

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