A Plea for the Return of the Country Wave

country wave

“Hey, do you know that guy? He just waved at you.”

One of the beautiful things about small town living is the country wave, or as I call it, the cowboy wave. If you’ve ever lived in a rural area, you know the drill: As you approach another vehicle on the road, you lift your hand off of the wheel to greet them, and they (generally) return it with their own wave.

The cowboy wave comes in a variety of styles:

  • the whole hand lifted prominently behind the windshield
  • the classic “two fingers and a thumb” rising off of the steering wheel
  • In the summer, with the windows open, the left elbow in contact with the lower windowframe while the hand rises to be seen above the sideview mirror
  • the “hat nod” (a brief dip of the head in your direction)
  • the laidback “right arm over the back of the passenger seat” with a subtle lifting and twisting of the hand

It’s not limited to driving, either. People are also likely to wave or nod and make eye contact when walking past you.

But all of these variations on the cowboy wave really mean the same thing: I see you. I acknowledge you. We both share this space.

And in our heavily scheduled and hyper-connected world, where people are more likely to be staring down at their phone than making eye contact with their fellow humans, gestures like the cowboy wave or a smile or a nod of the head (real-life human interactions!) have the power to make this planet a friendlier place.

Here’s my challenge to you, especially if you live or work in the city: Make the cowboy wave your signature move for a week. Throw in a smile and some eye contact, perhaps a kind word, and you might just find out that it’s a small world after all.

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

One thought on “A Plea for the Return of the Country Wave

  • February 24, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Hi Derek. Great post and great topic. My husband and I do live in a rural area and the country wave is quite common here. But it does mean one other thing. As we take our walks or ride our bikes in our quiet rural neighborhood, when we extend a wave to the folks speeding through and throwing out their beer cans it also means, “this is our land. Slow down and appreciate it.”


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