Monday, July 3, 2006

The Wave

Let's bring back the wave.

No, not the audience wave that you do at a football game. I am talking about the wave that you do to folks as you drive by in your car.

Last week we were visiting family in Minnesota (another post, I promise you!) and with my in-laws, I had a lively discussion of this little bit of community acknowledgement.

In my cousin's hometown of Fargo, ND, folks wave to each other as they pass in their cars. In Randall, IA, where my husband's parents live, you wave to everyone as you cruise through the town of 180 residents. My aunt told me about a community where the waving is so automatic between the pedestrians and cars that the pedestrians do not even look up anymore, they just walk along, bringing their arms up like elephant trunks everytime a vehicle appears.

Why do I think we need to bring this back? Well, for some folks, I imagine it has never left, but here in Silicon Valley, we are more likely to use a different form of salute to a passing motorist. When someone waves to me, acknowledges me, it makes me feel like I belong to a community of people who care about each other, and less like another harried mom on the way to pick up her kids. It makes me feel as though California has a culture and depth that extends beyond the size of your house and which private school your kids go to. It makes me think about a time where there was still cherry and apricot trees on most corners, back doors were left unlocked and kids spent the summers running around the neighborhood with their groups of friends.

On this July 4th weekend, I would like to propose that we bring the wave back, in whatever form that works for you - the two fingers up from the steering wheel; the straight up palm ; the arm-out-the-rolled-down-window greeting; something of your own choosing. Wave to other parents with kids in the car. Wave to the friends who live down the street. Wave to someone who drives a car like yours. Wave to a stranger.

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