So, first, let me introduce you to my town. It is truly small town America and I love it! We have a very large old-order Mennonite population in the area who drive horse-drawn buggies to get around. There is a guy who parks his car in the Dairy Queen parking lot in the morning, stands on the sidewalk and waves to everyone passing north on Route 42 towards Harrisonburg. Seriously! You get the picture.
When I started college at Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, it had a very similar small-town feel. Most people would smile, sometimes wave as others passed them on the main walkways through campus, whether they knew you or not. This was not only bizarre for a born-and-raised DC native but completely awesome.
What does one have to do with the other? Enter my running trails. “Trails” is an embellishment. I have my favorite routes, but the trails I run are along the side of the road, with my dogs on my left, all of us facing the oncoming traffic, wearing a reflective vest and (when it is dark) a head lamp. Yes, I get off the road and onto the shoulder when a car is passing me. And I wave to everyone. Everyone. And those who wave back get a little head nod of acknowledgement.
I even wave when I am driving, at every non-car I pass…and a lot of cars, too. It always boggles my mind when I wave to the non-vehicular traffic (runners and bikers, I talking to you) and they don’t wave back! Hello? I see you and am saying ‘Hi, let’s share this road, fellow traveler.’ ” It would be nice to have me and my several-thousand-pound vehicle acknowledged so I know you are paying attention to your surroundings and aren’t likely to veer out in front of me.
Sometimes I keep track of those who wave and those who do not. Let’s just say there are a lot of people who do not wave back. Oh, it varies by the time of morning and trail that I am on. There is also definitely less waving the closer I run to the start of the school and work day. To those people I say: Take a moment and a deep breath, then smile and wave back. You will feel less stressed and generally more positive, I promise. I am merely being friendly and asking you to acknowledge that you (driver) see me (runner) and will be sure to not clip or out right hit me! Wave back!
On a side note, I also see a lot of people holding up cell phones and “driving.” Those people make me nervous and you know who you are. Put it down and drive!
So the long and short of it for this posting is: If you are the runner, the biker, the buggy-driver, the walker, wave at those you pass. The cars are bigger than us and we are all sharing the same small road-space. And if you are the one driving the car, wave to those you pass. Not only is it polite and showing others know you see them, but it is a friendly gesture! It’s just a nice way to start the day. Mother Teresa said “Peace begins with a smile.” Imagine if we all started our days with a wave and a smile.