Do you know what the one-finger wave is? If you grew up in a rural area, you probably do, it’s just that in modern times it not only has taken on a new meaning, but has been updated to a different finger.
When I was a kid, on any given day when we were out for a drive, almost every car we met on the highway acknowledged our presence with a simple lift of the index finger from the steering wheel, and always it was returned by my Mom (or Dad depending on the who was the driver). It must have made both of them nuts when we would ask each time, "Who was that?" It was rare that they ever knew. It was considered common road courtesy of the times.
I also remember the warning flash of headlights an oncoming car would give us to indicate a patrol car was up ahead. It always meant to slow down (especially appreciated if you were hauling ass with your six other friends to a neighboring town for a football game in your prized "land yacht").
And if there ever was a car pulled over on the side of a road with their flashers on, minus the patrol car, there would always be a handful of other cars stopped to offer assistance. Even I have had the privilege of watching a couple of gentleman change my tire while I stood out of their way, chatting with the wives, twenty years ago.
Our overall recognition of each other as fellow human beings isn’t just limited to the bubbled lives of our cars, either. This weekend as XBoy raced ahead of us to the church entry, I watched as a woman entered the doors and even though she saw my son just reaching for the door, she let it go. If I hadn’t lunged for the heavy door, his fingers would have been smashed.
We avert our eyes walking in the mall, or down the streets, so we don’t have to smile or say good morning to strangers.
When did our society become so . . . anti-social?
I’m just as guilty as the next person, too, if not more so. I’m reminded of that when I’m pleasantly caught off-guard when a teen-ager holds the door for me instead of peeling off with his/her friends. We try to raise our kids to be polite and remember their manners, but it would seem that it’s the adults, who after so many thankless deeds and feeling invisible, that forget how effective an acknowledgment of being, is. When did "please", "thank you", and especially "you’re welcome" and "hello" get to be archaic?
Maybe we can practice waving with one finger (the first one); make eye-contact and smile at a stranger; or add "please" to our coffee order at the drive through.
If it feels awkward, it means we aren’t doing it enough.