Wave of the Present: Do You? Don’t You? Why?

When I drive, I have twitchy fingers. Every time I pass another car, person or bike, I wave a couple of digits in their direction.

It’s not just me. All locals do it. Lopez Island is known as The Friendly Isle. Most of us use the one-or-two-finger approach; some go whole-hog and use all five. I even know a couple of folks who’ve installed a floppy glove on their dashboard, vertically, which takes care of all their waving needs.

It’s the Lopez Wave. 


You can tell it’s summer by the low percentage of folks who wave back. Takes tourists a while to get the memo. But when they do, they join in enthusiastically–all five fingers.

Off-island, though, it can be a little embarrassing. When you wave at other drivers in Seattle, they tend to think you’re warning them about something. “What? What? Did I leave my latte on my roof again?”


And off-island on rural roads? It always takes me about three days to quit waving at folks. I guess they don’t mind. They even wave back sometimes.


So I’m wondering: is this a rural thing? No one waved on the dirt roads where I grew up in North Carolina. Maybe it’s Midwestern? There are a lot of Midwestern roots in the Pacific Northwest. Do folks wave at each other in Hawaii? Or just give the aloha sign?


I really am curious. Please weigh in with your thoughts. The only other thing I’ll ask of you is…when someone waves, wave back.

4 thoughts on “Wave of the Present: Do You? Don’t You? Why?

  1. In the eastern WA town where Bert grew up, everyone waves at one another. But then all of the approx. 100 residents know one another so it would be rude not to…

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Fun post, Gretchen! As a fellow Lopezian. I wave, too. We come by our Friendly Isle nickname honestly; no one on neighboring Orcas Island waves back when I go there and keep on waving (after all, it IS another island.) Folks are plenty friendly on Orcas; they just don’t wave.

    Living in Stehekin, WA (pop. 100) was good training for me; everyone there waves, too, as they drive the remote mountain valley’s 5 miles of paved road. But you DO know everyone you pass there.

    In the small Southern Illinois town where I went to high school, we tooted the horn, rather than waved at, passing cars. When walking down the Main Street, though, we did say hello to everyone we passed. That took awhile to get used to when we moved there from Chicago!

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