Back when I was a little girl, we used to drive to Adelaide every other year to see my step-dad’s family for Christmas. I distinctly remember one day, looking up from my book in the backseat to see him waving at an oncoming car. “Why are you waving?” I asked.
I don’t remember the exact answer but it was something along the lines of ‘because that’s what you do when you’re on a long car drive,’ and so that was that. Forever it has been in my mind that whenever you reach the outer limits of a city, you wave at people driving the other way.
Fast forward a good number of years, and Boatman brought me down to Port Lincoln to see where he grew up. One day we were driving down to Coffin Bay, and I noticed that he was waving to everyone, and they were waving back. Again, I thought nothing of it, but just filed it into the part of my brain that was storing such information.
Fast forward again to a few weeks ago, and Boatman and I are driving down the centre of Australia, and we made a rather sad observation; hardly anyone was waving back. In fact it became a little bit of a car game, seeing how many people we could make wave, and how big we could make them wave.
Which admittedly sounds like a pretty sad game, but car games usually are. 🙂
So then yesterday we were on our way back from Adelaide, having picked up our other car, and I found myself driving for once. (Boatman usually does all of it, because I don’t like driving, and I have never done long distances ever, so the fact that I was behind the wheel for a good 600km’s is nothing short of a miracle!) Seeing this as a great opportunity to brush up on my driving etiquette, I set myself the task of waving to every driver I saw.
Now admittedly, by the time I made this decision, I was two and a half hours into the trip, a little bored, a little high on caffeine, and missing any significant adult conversation, so I may have put a little too much enthusiasm into the whole thing, but I saw this fantastic opportunity to make meaningful two second connections with my fellow travellers. I was imagining a friendly, wonderful world where everyone is so delighted to see another car on the road, that they wave with joy and excitement, embracing the value of shared humanity.
Man was I let out down.
In fact the entire stretch of road between Adelaide and Port Augusta, I got a total of 2 response waves.
Out of goodness knows how many cars.
There was no shared love of humanity on that stretch of road.
Now waving in the car, is no boring, or limited task. There are a great many ways to wave, and believe me, I tried them all.
Starting with the one finger off the steering wheel…
And then progressing to the whole hand lifted in greeting.
When that didn’t work, I used two hands as a hello…
And after that, removed my hands briefly from the ten and two o’ clock position to shake my hand in an enthusiastic welcome to those headed in my direction…
I even tried impersonating the queen…
But it was to know avail.
All I got was 2 measly responses.
Until I got to the Eyre Peninsula. Then the game changed.
Just as I was about to give up entirely, whilst driving somewhere between Port Augusta and Whyalla, I raised my index finger in a hollow, disheartened show of comradeship, and Old Mate coming in the other direction raised his entire right arm out the window in a brilliant display of extreme salutation.
My faith in humanity was restored!
And so despite the much lesser traffic on the road, and the fact that I did occasionally forget my manners and instigate a hello, I got a whopping 12 waves on the final stretch home, and a few of those waved first!! Which goes to show two things.
1. The world really is a friendly place, at least in some places. And
2. If you’re in a car for too long on your own, you will start to place way too much importance on things that have no real meaning at all.
So, now the question falls to you: Do you wave on rural roads?
And if you did which would be your greeting of choice? 🙂