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A Friendly Wave

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Habits are a funny thing. You don’t realize what they are until you take a step (or three) back and look at things through a different lens. Or in my case, a windshield.

Two vehicles sit in our driveway that couldn’t be more different: a Jeep Wrangler and a Ford Mustang.

One takes tight turns at 60 miles per hour without batting an eye, while the other might topple over given a modest crosswind. One climbs the side of a mountain like Superman scaling a tall building, while the other would bottom out or lose traction on the tiniest bed of gravel.

Each has their strong and weak points. How is it that so many things, cars included, parallel our human existence? Alas, I digress.

I drive both cars, but I’ve become more enamored with the four wheel drive option lately, thanks to my view through the windshield.

The Jeep Wave. I didn’t know about it before my wife purchased her vehicle. But now I actively search for fellow Jeepers when I’m driving her car. Even though I might be cheating a bit when doing so, since it’s not technically my Jeep, there is a genuine satisfaction in acknowledging other members of the Jeep community with a small wave as I pass them on the road.

It’s tough to explain, but there’s an intangible connection that occurs, even with a small and fleeting wave through a windshield. It almost makes me want to buy a Jeep as my next car. Almost. I love my Mustang too much.

But it got me thinking. Why does the Jeep Wave need to be confined to only a Jeep? Why can’t we all offer a friendly wave to each other in passing? With the dopamine hit such a small gesture provides, can you imagine how much better each of our days might be if we spread that kindness across the miles (and vehicle types)?

I was running an errand the other day in my Mustang. I had been driving my wife’s Jeep earlier in the day, so my mind was split between off-road and hairpin turn mode. As I pulled out of a parking lot and into traffic, the Jeep Wrangler approaching from the opposite direction caught my eye. I instinctively raised my hand to acknowledge the brethren Jeeper, from my Mustang.

I realized my mistake a moment too late and chuckled beneath my breath as the Rubicon passed by me. And then I did a double-take, because I could have sworn the driver waved back, even though I wasn’t in the code compliant vehicle for such a gesture.

The dopamine hit to my system was even greater, because I didn't experience a rote gesture as part of some club. Instead, it was a friendly wave, from one human to another, all differences aside.

How wonderful is that?

I was listening to a mental well-being podcast the other day. It shared that one habit of the happiest people is finding a way to establish a deep connection with others. A far-fetched analogy, you say? Sure, I agree, you can’t form an everlasting bond with another person by way of a fleeting glance through the windshield. But who knows? So many other great things start small, with a smile—and maybe a friendly wave.


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