One Fingered Wave
You know you are officially ‘in the bush’ when you see people giving you the one fingered wave. I don’t mean the one fingered wave that people give you when they don’t like you either. I’m referring to the happy one. The one people don’t even realising they are doing until it’s too late.
For me there is a clear line on where this happens. As I drive west of Goondiwindi I notice that everyone is doing it. It’s right there on the steering wheel, waiting for company. With the approach of another vehicle the first finger (and occasionally the second one too) lift themselves off the steering wheel and give a gentle shake in acknowledgement.
It’s a funny thing, but something that is really unique to rural and remote areas. I don’t think I had ever really seen anything like it until I took my first foray out into the wilds of western Queensland.
The one fingered wave is the precursor to the fully fledged one hand tip. The hand tip is the more personal (“Hey I actually know you” or am “from around here too”) wave. It’s far more common in truck drivers and people who work on farms.
The one fingered wave isn’t something you automatically pick up if you are a newcomer to rural areas (like myself). I had to teach myself to do it. Initially it was a bit of a joke. I used to do it just to see if the other person would return the gesture, and I always felt a sense of relief and joy when it was reciprocated. After some time it became a reflex activity. Now I even struggle with stopping doing it once I leave Goondiwindi.
I’ve often wondered why people in the city don’t do this one fingered wave, and to some extent I believe they actually do, only not as often, and only at certain times – like when someone lets you merge in heavy traffic (and even then it’s only to the car behind you). Perhaps it’s also because when you are in the country there is a good chance that the person you are waving at will be someone you already know. That doesn’t happen in the city; it will almost certainly be a stranger. Sometimes I will wave at people by accident when I am visiting the big smoke and I am instantly embarrassed about it. They will know I am not from around ‘those parts’, even if my dusty, muddy four wheel drive wasn’t enough of a giveaway.
The one fingered wave is something I have come to really love about living out west. To me it represents familiarity and country courtesy. The one fingered wave is ‘home’ and there is a certain amount of comfort I feel when I am back in areas where it is commonplace.
Do you use the one fingered wave? Let me know on social media!
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