A Wave Hello

Several times recently on my way to work I have driven past a man who lives down the hill from me.  A year ago I didn't know who he was but then we were introduced by a mutual friend as I was walking down to the village.  Alas, I cannot recall his name, but names are not generally my strong suit anyway.  (And frequently upon meeting someone named, say, Bill, I will then lock in the name as Bob and that will be his name forever.) 

But what I know about this man is that  lately he takes two little dogs on their walk at approximately the same time I am heading down his street in the morning. And he has a friendly face.  And the dogs are cute as pie.

I know that I had probably seen him hundreds of times, but not until we actually said hello that evening as I walked down to the village did I ever think of waving to him when I drove past. After all, most of us aren't in the habit of waving to complete strangers unless we're riding on a float. 

Today he was focused on the two little doggies and since the hill is steep where they were walking, it occurred to me that his attention would not be on me and my car.  But just in case he did see me drive past and wave, I decided it would be nice to wave anyway.

So I drove past him and waved to the right in the direction of the passenger window and sure enough, as he then appeared in my rear view mirror, I saw him throw up his hand in a nice sturdy wave.  (Not one of those waves we make when we really haven't a clue who just waved but wave so as not to appear not to know.  Not that kind of half hearted wave.) It was a good, happy wave.  A positive wave.

Perhaps it was my imagination, but it seemed as if his is step grew just slightly more buoyant when he saw my wave.  Like,

"Oh hello, person I met some time ago!   Thanks for acknowledging that you know who I am.  Even though we don't know one another's names."

I continued on my drive with a happier heart and thus concluded that waving to someone is good for your soul.  And I think being waved at is good for your heart.  Because it shows you that someone recognizes you and cares enough to admit it by a friendly wave.  As I pulled into my parking lot at work, I decided  that a drive to and from work is much nicer when there are people I know dotting my path.  Even if we don't know each other's names, it's just a better day when there are people to wave at and be waved at by.  (Which is not a very grammatical sentence but I think it makes sense.)

Following a good wave,  if I have the time, the wave leads me to a one-sided conversation in my head as people move along out of sight:

Hello, man with the two dogs!   Wondering how your knees are feeling today?

Hi, lady who walks past my office at lunch!  Where do you buy your lunch?  At the Trolley Stop Deli?

Love their tuna sandwiches. And that  pasta salad!


Good morning, runner at three in the afternoon.  Do you ever get tired of running? You're looking very fit!  

What job do you do that affords you running time at three?

A wave.  Kind of a simple thing.  A nice thing, too.  And I just don't think we can do too many nice things in one day. 

There's lots of pain out there: who knows when a simple gesture like a wave will ease it just a bit?

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Tags: A Wave Hello, Chris Shea, La Mesa, La Mesa News, La Mesa Today

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Comment by Tiffany Shepherd on December 20, 2011 at 7:57pm

Thanks for the great story! I love waving at people as well and saying hello when we pass in the street.  It just makes me feel good!

Comment by Patricia I. O'Reilly on December 20, 2011 at 2:29pm

I agree!  I wave to people often, even strangers.  At the least it acknowledges their presence on the planet and at the best it makes them smile, even to wonder who that odd woman who waved might be.  Can't hurt, makes me feel good, and give my wrist some exercise.  Give it a try!

Comment by Elaine on December 20, 2011 at 1:04pm

Ditto and ditto!  What an excellent gesture and idea!  I love greeting strangers on the street...glad to see you do to!  Merry Christmas

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