Michele Page: Waving not quite as popular as it once was

Michele Page

What ever happened to the wave? I’m not talking about the waves of the ocean or that thing you do during a sporting event. I'm talking about the side-to-side movement of the hand in a gesture of greeting.

I have noticed that when I wave at a passer-by or someone looking in my direction, they either turn their heads or immediately frown up with a puzzled look.

Maybe they are wondering who I am or from where they know me. Maybe they didn’t see me. Maybe I’m fooling myself about something petty.

At any rate, I have noticed that the time-honored gesture is not as popular as it used to be. A few wave and smile in return, but most just do not interact with others like they used to.

Another gesture that seems to have died is the smile. I try and smile when my eyes meet another, but here lately, some folks just turn back to their cell phones or look right through me. Maybe we’re all preoccupied with our daily routines of going to work or getting to the store. Maybe life in general is too busy to use our hands in a friendly gesture.

I really do not know why the friendliest of gestures have disappeared, but I would love to see the practice come back in style.

Growing up skinny and tall, a smile and a wave put me at ease and made me many friends. At the start of my teen years I was pretty self-conscious about my appearance. I was a foot taller than all the girls and most of the boys. When we took our group photos, I was the kid in the middle of the back row. I’ve always been tall and it comes with the family genes.

I was constantly the butt of many jokes in school just because I was different. As I matured and grew to understand why kids pick on those who are different I found that a smile was my best defense.

When one of the kids who picked on me passed me in the halls of school, I’d flash them a smile. Soon, those same kids who picked on me waved and eventually said hello. Those small gestures bridged a gap and made my social life a little better although my smile and wave technique took a while to show any gains.

I still stuck with it after reading a lot of Judy Bloom books that seemed to offer me encouragement for some odd reason. By the 11th grade, I was a popular kid and no longer ate alone in the cafeteria. I remember passing on the smile-wave advice to others who were in the same predicament.

For now, I’m still going to do the side-to-side hand gesture and hope it does not earn me a middle finger in return.

With gas and food prices so high, a wave and a smile are one of the best buys on the market and maybe, just maybe the practice will catch.