I do a lot of driving, and much of it occurs within my county. For those uninitiated with country driving, I've decided to write you a short tutorial on "Country Driving Etiquette". This installment is going to deal with "The Wave".
Now the professional safety experts will tell you to place your hands on the steering wheel at "10 and 2". This is comparing the steering wheel to the face on a clock. If you have gone fully digital on your timepieces; I got nothing. Anyway, in the country you do not usually hold the steering wheel "10 and 2", but at high noon, 12:00. I prefer it is my left hand, because then my right hand is free to shift gears, mess with the radio dial or pet my dog.
When driving in the country one faces three basic road conditions. The first one is a state designated highway with blacktop and safety lines. You know the yellow dashes and stripes in the middle of the road and the white line on the sides? Then there are county roads that were at one time blacktop and still have remnants of striping, if you're lucky. Then there are the county rock roads. Just rock usually, but sometimes mud, sometimes dirt.
Ok, we will now begin "The Wave" lesson. It is critical to keep one hand at the 12 o'clock position and employ basically two waves; the "index finger point" and the "full palm". Notice, and I stress; when using only one finger, you must use the index finger. 'Nuf said.
State Designated Highway: No waving of either variety when meeting on-coming vehicles, unless you recognize the vehicle and occupants; then utilize the "index finger point" as a salutation when passing.
County Blacktop: An "index finger point" is mandatory for all passing vehicles. If you recognize the driver, a "full palm" is expected. Please note since there is precious few painted stripes remaining on the road, multiple potholes and patches to avoid and tight bridges to navigate, you might have to employ the "10 and 2" hand position momentarily. In these cases, the "index finger point" can be discarded, but the "full palm" for recognized drivers is mandatory, even if you are halfway into oncoming traffic or dodging various wildlife, alive or dead.
County Rock: On these roads you must consider the road condition and speed. Most traffic on rock roads travels 20 MPH or slower. This is because the majority of the traffic is farm vehicles. Slow down for these folks. Their determination, investment and hard work is what allows you to drive your interstate highways and big city streets to the grocery store and purchase high quality, safe and dependable food.
As for the waving, a "full palm" is preferred on rock roads for all on-coming traffic. I even use the "passenger window wave" when I go around a big tractor or sprayer. If you recognize the approaching driver, you should slow down, hug tight to your lane and prepare to stop. You may just want to talk about the weather, grain prices or who's the biggest bonehead in government.
One additional wave is used infrequently. I like to call it the "windshield wipe". This is employed for that great neighbor that always has a smile on his face, a story to tell and a laugh to share. This guy (yes, you, Mr. Schafer!) gets the right arm fully extended, passing the hand from left to right. A big grin should accompany this wave.
In any of these situations you should always be on the lookout for Donahue trailers. Drivers pulling Donahue are statistically more intelligent and better looking. Well, at least that is how I see them!
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