Have you ever noticed something major about traveling down an old two lane in Eastern Kentucky? Almost everyone you meet, whether you know them or not, will wave at you. Not just a regular wave, though. There is a certain code we follow when addressing a car-to-car greeting. You have to master and perfect your own technique, and there may even be a specific way of “waving” in your area.
In my neck of the woods, it’s usually a two finger wave, or possibly a tip of the index finger elevated slightly off the steering wheel. Some even use a head nod accompanied by the four-finger lift with the palm resting lightly on the top of the steering wheel. Some flap all five fingers carelessly as others pass, and the real gems of the area (usually older ladies) will sweetly do the excited wave where the entire hand is extended from the steering wheel and is waving furiously in your direction. Those are usually the happiest and most enthusiastic, it doesn’t matter if they know you or not. Either way, if you’re from the Appalachians, the South and especially rural Eastern Kentucky, I know you recognize this.
Don’t ask us why this is a thing, because no one seems to know. EVERYONE around here is brought up knowing this is a special code of etiquette that should never be broken. Not only is it deemed completely normal to wave at strangers, but this is expected. I am always mildly horrified if I’m driving down the road and miss a wave that someone has doled out. It’s always better to be the person who waved, than the person who didn’t wave back.
It’s a part of who we are here, and the ever present principal that you’re supposed to love your neighbor and be cordial to everyone…..even those you probably don’t know. Our area has a long history of relying on our communities, and raising one another up in hard times and trials. Most folks are always apt to lend helping hands, and open hearts to those in need. It truly shows in the way we carry ourselves, especially in little things that are simple a gesture as a wave in a passing car, you just come to realize that those little things, are actually pretty big things.