I always enjoy seeing two motorcycles passing each other on the highway or on a winding cottage road, the way the drivers give each other that two-fingered side wave. It is a very cool gesture; calm, casual, stylish and trendy. It says, “We are brethren, kindred spirits simply because of our chosen mode of travel.”
I have tried to get the same sort of sophisticated acknowledgement going when I pass another driver of a pickup truck. I want to start my own trend. So I hold my arm out of the open window, (something that since childhood your mom always warned you against lest a passing vehicle takes it off), clap my palm on the door and give a one-fingered waggle. It just doesn’t catch on. The other drivers give me an icy, unfriendly stare that says, “Are you a bit odd, or are you perhaps just mocking motorcyclists?” Hmmm, maybe pickup drivers are just not fashionable enough – perhaps it would work better if I drove a family minivan. Maybe other minivan drivers would be more hospitable.
I tried something similar when I was peddling my mountain bike down a narrow trail, I gave a passing cyclist what I thought was a very groovy hand-waving acknowledgement. Not only did the other bicyclist not return my friendly gesture, but I was so focussed on my own savvy signal that I lost my balance, teetered out of control and crashed into the trailside tangle. I guess I should have used my bell.
I thought that the only way I could gain any sense of satisfaction was to invest in my own Harley, or at least a small scooter. I wanted to join the motorcycle fraternity. I brought the idea to my wife, who simply scoffed and waved me away. At least even the idea of owning a motorcycle had garnered a wave!
Then, feeling downcast and sullen, I decided that a day on the water might brighten my mood. I took my pontoon boat, Big Red, out for an afternoon’s outing on a certain Muskoka lake. I passed a runabout going the other way. Everybody on board waved at me. I passed a sleek jet boat and the same thing happened. I passed a 100 year old man in a polished wooden dippy and he raised a hand in salute. I passed a sumo wrestler on a jet ski and he gave me a fashionable wave, without even losing his balance. Canoeists waved, sailors waved, people in all shapes and sorts of marine vessels passed and waved. I boated in and out of the channels to pass as many boats as possible. Everybody waved. I waved back excitedly, frantically, like some kind of lunatic – or at least so said my kids.
People on the docks waved and I waved back, but then realized that the people on the dock were all young men and not waving at me but at my daughters on board. “Get a boat if you want to wave!” I yelled. A rower waved and a wake boarder waved; everybody young and old, big and small waved and was friendly. A kayaker waved quite energetically, although, in retrospect, perhaps they were waving frantically at me to slow down or keep away. No matter, nothing could dampen my sense of comradery.
Well almost nothing. I waved excitedly at the police launch – and they waved me down and asked if I had been drinking. I hadn’t, of course, I was just happy. They checked my boater’s card and safety equipment and waved me on my way. I was just thrilled to be part of the boating fraternity – elated to be part of any network for that matter, or at least one that waved at each other. What a wonderful, welcoming, sociable bunch boaters are and I am just so delighted to be finally making waves.