What a nut job! I’m sure that’s what strangers think when they drive by me as I walk through town and I wave to them. Or, on the other hand, “What a snob,” when friends wave from their cars and I don’t wave back. Both are right; Nut Job, Snob, but, it’s not me; it’s them, or rather, their cars. They all look alike, all SUVs look alike, all sedans look alike. Different makes of automobiles are hardly distinguishable. I can’t tell a Ford from a Mercedes. Not in a quick glance anyhow. In the good old days (here comes the old coot in me) when cars had a distinctive shape, color scheme (2 and 3 tones if you can imagine that) and the glass was clear; you could identify the car and more important, you could see who was inside. And, correctly wave, or not.
So, here I am, walking around in a world where half the time I wave at cars I think might be driven by someone I know, but they aren’t. And, get labeled, that “Nut Job” in Owego who waves to cars. The other half of the time, I don’t wave when I should. When I take a stroll up Davis Hill (struggle and gasp my way up is a more accurate description) cars wiz by so fast I never get a good glimpse in the window, so I wave to every car. It’s a self-defense gesture, a thank-you for not hitting me. After I’ve climbed for a few minutes, I don’t wave to anyone; I’m too tired to raise my arm.
We need a rule, a societal norm, that says a person driving a car, who sees someone they know walking on the sidewalk should give the horn a toot to say hello, not just a wave. Then, old coots like me, and regular people too, can wave back. We still may not know who we’re waving to, but at least we won’t feel quite so stupid, waving when we shouldn’t, not waving when we should.
If you adopt this suggestion, despite the fact it’s coming from an old coot and not Ms. Manners or Emily Post, you might want to practice tooting. It’s not easy to produce a friendly sounding honk. That air bag squished into the middle of your steering wheel makes it hard to produce a polite, “Toot”. Quite often, you get no result at all, panic, and slam on the horn, producing a loud, angry blast. It startles the recipient, not at all the friendly, “Hi there,” you were shooting for. Here’s the deal. You toot, I’ll wave. Even if it’s a mistaken identity. I won’t be a snob anymore and I won’t be that nut job that waves at all the cars. It’s enough of a burden just being an old coot.
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