Thank You For Not Waving

Feb 28, 2013 View Comments by

Thank you for not waving“Thank you for not waving,” those were the words that popped into my head as I passed a rider heading north as I descended into Taos, NM. You just saved my life. Perhaps mom was right; maybe two eyes on the road and both hands on the handlebars are words to live by. You, my two-wheeled compadré, were only looking out for me. Dear stranger, clearly you have my best interests in mind. How could I expect you to briefly raise your left hand? I apologize. I have been selfish, insensitive, and reckless. Sincerely, thank you for not waving. You have taught me a valuable lesson. Who knows how many countless lives you have already saved and will continue to save in the future? I owe you an un-repayable debt of gratitude.

Ok. A bit extreme don’t you think? I must admit, in the past when a rider has not returned my hand-gesture of good will, I have occasionally played out this nonsensical conversation in my head. I find it more effective and less offensive than showing off my assortment of alternative hand gestures. The fact is, not everyone is a waver. I have buddies that simply see no point in it. They don’t mean to offend; they just don’t feel compelled to wave to other riders. I, however, feel differently.

As a kid I witnessed my dad participate in an unspoken code of communication. He waved to construction workers as they granted us passage through roadwork. He waved to policemen and women. He waved to the cars we passed on small country roads. It was a simple way of saying, “Hi. I see you there. Have a good day.” I think of it as an “old-world” version of Facebook’s LIKE feature.

Additionally, my dad drove a unique British car, a Morgan. These were, and still are, quite rare. When he saw a kindred driver he lifted his leather-encased hand from the wooden steering wheel and gave a wave. It was a connection between people who didn’t just pick the straight and narrow. To me, it seemed like a secret club, with no meetings and no membership dues and I wanted in. I even wore an old pair of my dad’s leather gloves when I rode beside him, in anticipation of when I would be old enough to drive and wave. Waving to fellow motorcyclists has always held the same feeling to me, an understanding amongst people who are driven to do things a little differently. Besides, as riders we have lots of cool glove options; we really should lift our hands and show them off!

Over the years, regardless of what style of motorcycle I have ridden, I have always waved to everybody. In the days when I was swathed in leather and rode a cruiser I dared to wave at sportbike riders. Really, it’s true. And once in 2001, I was spotted nodding my head towards a kick-starting two-stoke rider from the saddle of my electric start, four-stoke (the official wave when your hands are otherwise pre-occupied). With a moderate level of investigation you could even uncover the various times that I may have flicked a friendly wrist in the direction of a scooter rider. Call me crazy. I don’t mind. The point is I do not discriminate. A rider is a rider. Since, one day I may be on a cruiser, another day on a sportbike, and yet another day out on the trail; I don’t even think about subdivisions amongst motorcyclists. To me, we are all riders. I like to make the connection through a casual wave.

Today there are a lot more motorcyclists. The rareness of passing another rider has diminished. It can be a bother to raise your hand and wave at every passing rider on your way to work or on a busy sun-filled weekend. I admit, even I don’t keep my hand permanently raised when commuting, which is what I would have to do with the number of riders I see.

In the end, two hands on the handlebars may be safer. But, for me, connecting with other riders is still worth the Evel Knievel like danger of raising my hand to say, “Hey, isn’t this great. Enjoy the ride!” So consider yourself warned. If I see you out there I am going to wave at you  . . .  and if you get too close  . . .  I might even hug you as well!

So with that controversial revelation   . . .  what’s your take on waving? There is no wrong answer. One last thing, be on the look out for my new book, co-authored with Judith Martin, titled “The Dangers and Etiquette of One-Handed Riding (Waiving on the Wave).”

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About the author

I am an introvert posing as an extrovert. I love travel in all forms, but prefer 2-wheels. I created AdventureHermit as a way to share my adventures and inspire others to find joy through discovery; writing for RoadRUNNER is a dream come true!