A little thing called love

I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately about the rules of interacting with strangers or passerby’s. When did this become so dang complicated, I wonder…

I remember growing up, my parent’s said hello to everyone. It usually went beyond a hello to a how are you, to which my Mom would reply, “Finer than frog hair!” or “Could be a lot worse!” or, when I was in town visiting, “I’ve got my baby home, life is great!”

South Dakota gal

Thanks for teaching me, Mom.

My parents genuinely recognize and acknowledge people they come in contact with on a daily basis while running their small businesses. They appreciate their patronage, and their kindness creates an attractive energy that keeps people coming back. Therefore it’s not uncommon to see them talking with people often, both friends and customers.

When I met Country Man, I remember riding around with him in his brand new pickup, the one he bought right before we met. He was so darn proud of that pickup, and I couldn’t understand it at the time. Who cares this much about a pickup, I thought? It wasn’t until later that I realized that man worked hard for his pickup, to make monthly payments. How could a girl with a car bought by her parents ever understand this? Well, I understand it now, in the real world.

South Dakota pickup

Country Man's first pickup

During the many times out driving the country roads where he lived, I noticed he would lift his finger up from the steering wheel to wave at passerby’s. Some he knew, some he didn’t. I asked him why he waved at everyone? Maybe half of the drivers waved back. I recall him saying something like, why shouldn’t I wave?

Now I am learning… maybe waving or smiling or reaching out to people has no immediate reward, no personal gain. Some might even question your intentions, subconsciously throwing up a wall of protection.

But I don’t want to worry about that stuff. I’m just going to do it; stop questioning it…

…and trust that no matter the reaction, deep inside, it was a blessing to another’s soul.

So, how are you? Me, you ask? Well, I am just finer than frog hair now that you mention it!

South Dakota gal

Hello!

*Photo from January. It hasn’t snowed yet!

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66 thoughts on “A little thing called love

  1. Saying hello and smiling at someone may be the only kindness that person experiences all day…. who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?!?

  2. I remember the first time hearing the “Finer than frogs hair” a few years ago and I thought …hmmm.. frogs don’t have hair and then realized……..wow, that’s pretty darn fine…. yeppers…ha ha

  3. I notice this especially when I’m out running. I wave to everyone I pass, but not everyone waves back. I’ve noticed that the number of return waves I get varies by place too: big city = fewer waves, small town = more waves.

    Like you I stopped worrying about whether or not other people wave back, and just focused on being the kind of friendly person that would wave without expecting anything in return. You never know when your acknowledgement of another person may make someone’s day! Great post! Thanks for reminding me to wave with abandon!

  4. the wave went out of style in MN, where I grew up. but, when I moved to MT, it made a comeback in my life in a big way. of course it stuck around once we moved back to SD. now i find myself waving to people on the Interstate, and in big cities. don’t get many back though ….

  5. I learned from my boyfriend, who is a man’s man from the rural South, that there are two vehicles that have “wave rules”: Jeeps and motorcylces. He owns both, so I’ve been getting used to him waving at other Jeep and motorcycle drivers everywhere we go… even in Denver. It makes me reminiscent of that one-finger wave you’re talking about that South Dakota pickup drivers do. It was something I spent my entire childhood watching my dad and grandfather do. Every time I go home to visit my dad in small-town South Dakota, I notice the difference between the people there and in the city. I have to get used to making eye contact and saying hello to people on the street. And then I miss it when I come back to the city. Anonymity is terribly overrated.

  6. I grew up in rural Nebraska where the steering wheel wave was big. I’ve stuck to that simple, friendly movement from the steering wheel, only mine is the right index and burd finger, and thumb. I usually smile too. I don’t remember the ladies doing it much when I was a kid, but my Grandpa and my Dad did it… and that was good enough for me! It’s always been a sort of challenge to me to see how many return the wave! Great post!

  7. This is something I struggle with all the time- being more outgoing, more friendly. It shouldn’t be that difficult but there are just so many walls built up over years of living in big cities. Thank you!

    • About 10 years ago I moved from a big city to a small country village where I, too, encountered everyone always waving at each other. Here’s my 2 cents: When you’re not used to it, waving like that is like taking a little risk of being rejected. I think it’s really just a matter of perspective….you take the risk and you might get waved at in return – a circuit completed, an interaction that makes you feel part of a community. If you don’t get a wave, well that person either didn’t see you or isn’t ready to take the risk or maybe they’re just a jerk. And really, in a second all they’ll be is a reflection in the rearview, unlikely to be encountered again. So you don’t have anything to lose. Give it a try!

  8. It’s the number one thing I miss about the West…other than the mountains of course, the amount of folks on road you don’t even know that wave at ya just cause. Since moving to NE Michigan I do it all the time regardless of the lack of waves I get back. I figure one of these days they just gotta catch on and if nothing else maybe I can brighten someones day or at least make them suspicious! πŸ˜‰

  9. Here in rural western Canada, everyone waves at everyone if you are within 5 miles or so of home. On the motorcycle, though, just about everyone waves at everyone regardless of how far away from home you are!

  10. I make it a point to wave or say hello to everyone. I’d say about half the time I don’t get a response, but I do it anyway. One older man jogs by my house every morning and I’ll be outside at the bus stop and always say a nice, “good morning” to him and he never as much as blinked back at me. Then suddenly after months of this he decided to say “morning” back and now he even gives me a smile.

  11. I go upstate and visit friends of mine, it’s the country there and everyone waves. The first time they did it I was like “who was that? Do they know me?” LOL πŸ™‚

    Now I wave all the time too. Unfortunately, only up there πŸ™‚ This is great!

  12. Dog-walking gives us lots of opportunities to say hello. Just this morning three neighbors spoke up first to say good morning before we’d even noticed them. It makes ya feel really good.

  13. You’re so right about this. I once heard a reporter say that my state has the “fewest smiles per square mile”, and he was SO right. I definitely don’t belong here. I’d need ten more hands to count how many people don’t respond to my smiles of greeting, but that one here and there makes it all worthwhile. In the small towns of the state where I plan to move, people are MUCH friendlier. Can’t wait for that day to come!

  14. That shadow picture of you is AWESOME! I love it. Your blog really is spectacular; I can’t quite put it in words, but it’s unlike any other I’ve seen! I know how you feel, though, about greeting passersby – I have to force myself to smile at cars when I walk the dog around the neighborhood! It’s an adjustment, but people are usually very receptive!

  15. I know what you mean about the difference between stuff you are given and stuff you buy with your own money. I still have the first thing I saved up and bought for myself when I was 12 or so.

  16. Yes, growing up in rural Virginia, we spoke to everyone too. Even if it was just saying ‘mornin! So much has changed in the world in recent years, but I think country folks still keep to those old fashioned ways. Thank goodness.

  17. I love it! I’ve lived in country and city, and I have to say that the niceties of the country are much more preferable. I am thankful to be raising my child in a place where the neighbors stop by just to chat and welcome you to the neighborhood. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes I get wrapped up in my head and forget to smile!

  18. I grew up in a small country town and that’s what everyone does down there….lifts a few fingers off the steering wheel to wave at the passerby…doesn’t matter who it is! I guess It’s just ingrained in me, because I do it too. Of course not on the busy, busy street, but once I turn off from there and I’m in the neighborhoods or I’m on the freeway or country I can’t help but do it! I do sometimes get weird looks….maybe they are trying to figure out if I was waving or something worse…haha, but I get such a great feeling when I pass that one pickup truck and I see a finger wave and a nod right back!!!!

  19. My mom said that too! I grew up with my dad waving at everyone when we were out near the small town where he grew up. It didn’t happen so much growing up near Milwaukee though. Not Madison either where I live now, though when I’m riding my bike to work, I do interact with a bunch of bikers I see with the opposite commute and with pedestrians and dog walkers that I see often. A year ago, we bought a small farm in a rural Wisconsin county. Not a stop light in the whole county. Not even in the county seat. Plenty of waving there. And if we leave the gate at the end of the driveway open, people stop by. Every interaction we’ve had has been pleasant whether it’s been neighbors coming to meet us and size us up, or a guy who came by the weekend before last looking for the guy who sold us the place over a year ago.

  20. Country Man’s finger wave cracked me up. When I visit my mom in Tennessee people do that all the time. I’ll be walking Reggie around the neighborhood and the drivers all give me the finger wave. At first I did a double take. Which finger was it? πŸ™‚ But now I wave right back.

  21. Down here in South Carolina everyone waves to everyone. They wave to say hello wave to say goodbye wave to let you in traffic and you’re right it does me good. Just knowing you are seen, that someone, even if they are strangers, know that you are there. It’s good. so how are you?

  22. I am so happy to read this! So few people acknowledge or wave at each other in this small town I live in (the Northeast) and it drives me crazy. We see each other every single day, many of us (even if we don’t know one another by name) but we still don’t wave. I’ve even tried and often people have no interest in waving back, averting their eyes. Maybe I’ll start to be like Country Man and wave at EVERYONE! πŸ™‚

  23. This is really sweet, and I love the last photograph. I was smiling because I loved it, then doing a serious double take…. then laughing when I saw the note that it was in January. It really would be pretty early for snow.

  24. I was just driving home from lunch with my man and saw a scene that brought this post to mind. on the opposite side of the highway there was a big funeral making their way to the cemetery. One by one the cars on my side of the road began to pull over and turn on their hazard lights. Some even got out of their cars and took their hats off. They stayed for the whole funeral procession. They don’t know that person, but they paid their respects to the families on their way to say goodbye.

  25. People in rural areas and small towns wave and smile at each other more. They even don’t avoid eye contact! I think it’s because in cities, people are so crowded together that they create their space around them to make up for the physical space they are missing. In rural areas and small towns, we have our physical space, so we aren’t trying to create anything and can indulge in the pleasure of a smile and a wave. Besides, in rural areas and small towns, you don’t really want to risk failing to wave at someone you know but simply don’t recognize at that moment!

    Nancy
    http://www.workingmomadventures.com
    http://www.thefootballnovice.com

  26. here in rural central Victoria, a lot of – in fact I’d go as far as MOST of us – do the finger wave, whether we know the person
    Obvioudly it’s a country thing that translates trans-pacifically πŸ™‚

  27. Growing up on the prairie … we waved at everyone. There was the 1 finger nod, the 2 finger “how are you” and the 4 finger full hand wave. There was no large arm waving wave unless you were in distress though πŸ™‚

    Fun post πŸ™‚ MJ

  28. When we go home to my Dad’s I always “lift my finger from the steering wheel”. My city husband never understood. I greet everyone as if I have known them for years. I’ve never been sorry for it. The last time we were home I noticed a very subtle and quiet lift of Johns fingers we passed. I just smiled. Thanks for making me smile.

  29. I had to laugh; we always called that the ‘Missouri wave’ because when I lived in rural Southern Missouri, everybody raised their index finger in a lazy salute. Thanks for the memory and have a a little finger wave from Indiana.

  30. We used to live in S. CAL. and nobody waved because nobody bothered to get to know anyone else outside their very tight circles… They might flash you the finger if you made them angry though. (We called it the ‘universal sign of disenchantment.’)

    Then we moved to N. Alabama and everyone waves to everybody. We had a bit of trouble adjusting (Who was that, do you know them?) it was just so overwhelming to have total strangers waving at ya… But we got used to it after a bit, and we like it just fine! πŸ˜‰
    ~ Lynda

  31. I do this walking through the commuter tides in the city each day to’ing and fro’ing from work. That smile gien could be the single bright sparks in a person’s day. A “you matter!”

  32. Good point. People used to be friendlier and less afraid I think. Now there seems so much to be scared of.

    Identity theft.

    Reputation.

    And on and on.

    It’s interesting, when we were in Ireland, the curvy roads were narrow and often you had to wait for another car to pass before you could go on. Without exception, drivers lifted their forefinger in salute as they waited for you or passed by. It was a courtesy. A thank you.

  33. What a happy post. Thank you! It makes me feel a little better…..I live on a cul-de-sac, and when I’m out working in the garden, I can’t always see who’s driving by because the sun is hitting people’s windows and stuff, so I always wave and smile, just in case it’s someone I should know. Better safe than sorry, I always think. But I sometimes feel like a dork anyway…..

  34. when I first came to the UK I was surprised that even when you go to the shops people ask you how you are and are chatty in general. I find it very rewarding talking to strangers even if its just a ‘how are you ‘ and a smile. In Sweden where i’m from that never happens! Like someone said further up it might be they only smile and friendly comment the person have got that day.

  35. Pingback: what a year can do… « The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife

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