Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Shortly after I bought my Jeep new in 2000 (after my Saturn was totalled), a co-worker informed me that I would now be obligated to particpate in what she referred to as "The Jeep Wave." The Jeep Wave is rather self-explanatory: it involves two drivers of Jeeps (Wranglers only, as far as I can ascertain) giving a salutation of acknowledgment as they pass one another on the street.

I listened politely and nodded at my co-worker, not wanting to hurt her feelings, but my first thought was, I'm not doing that. I'd imagined the roads populated with this very select kooky band of overly-enthusiastic oddballs flailing at one other. Then I forgot about it.

But almost immediately after I started driving the Jeep, I discovered she was right. The first "wave" I got was by a young guy: an unsmiling, baseball-hat-and-shades wearing, wouldn't-be-caught-dead-doing-something-uncool-looking fella. His hands were at 10 and 2, and when he passed, he brought two fingers up into a sort of modified fingers-together peace sign.

There are other variations. There is the four-fingers-up-palm-still-on-the-steering-wheel, there is the flat-out wave. Sometimes there is a nod, but it is hard to distinguish a nod at 40 mph.

And it's not just the boys, I've gotten waves from everyone - middle-aged moms, silver-haired gentleman, teenage girls on their cell phones. No one is too pre-occupied to give a wave. Usually. At first, I would only give the wave if waved to. If I gave a little wave and got no reply it made me feel oddly rejected, and I really didn't need that in my life. Then the wave just became instinctual. If I didn't get a wave back, I assumed the person wasn't paying attention, or was in the middle of a big fight, or was over the whole Jeep-waving thing, for which I simply felt sorry for them for being so cynical.

I've had my Jeep for nine years now. The Wave is strong as ever. Sometimes I'll be going to the grocery and get acknowledged half a dozen times before I even get there. It's nice.

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