NFR Sampling satisfaction with life with the Farmer Wave

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
For quite a while, I've been waving at nearly everyone I meet while driving. It's not that I am trying to spread joy in the world because my behavior seems to cause more consternation than joy. It's more that I am interested in sampling the attitude of the region through which I am driving. I'm hoping for a wave back.

I just give a little farmer wave--three or four fingers flick up on the hand on the top of the wheel. Sometimes when I can't get any waves back, I try both hands.

Something about cars suppresses waving behavior. Perhaps cars diminish our regard for the Other. Notice how if one or both parties were in boats, everyone would be waving like idiots.

I imagine conversations in the cars as they recede in my rear view mirror. "Ok, Debbie, who the hell was that?" "Was that one of those gang members, marking us for death? Was I supposed to flash my high beams? No, it's 'Don't flash your high beams'" "Looks like Bill got himself a new truck."

Maybe the young women are thinking "Sexual harassment!" Maybe some of the men are thinking that too.

In the morning, along Powerhouse Road in Yakima, no one ever waves back. These people are on their groggy morning commute. Reaction time too slow. On 97 over Satus Pass, no one ever returns a wave, but the closure rates at 70 mph are too high. On separated highways like I-84 through the Columbia Gorge, the on coming traffic is too far away to expect much notice. But I'm surprised how few wave backs I get on 821 through the Yakima Canyon. Maybe these drivers are all either looking at the hills for bighorns or looking at the water. Maybe they are all from out of town. Makes me feel as popular as a telemarketer sometimes.

On highway 142 along the Klickitat, I've done a little better. I was whooping it up, honking the horn, when on one trip from Klickitat to Lyle this September, I got a return wave from the last possible car, giving me a response rate of 6 out of 12!

But on the Goldendale to Glenwood road, not so good. Lots of out-of-towners during the fishing season, I guess.

By far, the friendliest road that I have data on is 206 between Wasco and Condon. There's not a lot of traffic but some days I can get a 80% or higher response rate. Last time I drove it, some old boy in a big Dodge pickup beat me to the wave! These are the friendliest people in the country. Maybe I should move there.

Next time you're driving along a river, and someone flashes a wave at you, give me a wave back.


Well-Known Member
Oh! That was you! The weirdo! Now I get it.

Just kidding; fun and funny human interest story. Interesting how behaviors that used to be considered neighborly are now sometimes perceived as threatening or harassing.


Folks still wave on the rural roads of NE Oregon where I grew up. Most likely, the more remote the road, the more likely you'll get a wave. This holds true on river roads in NEO.

Motorcycle riders still wave at each other... unless you're riding the "wrong motorcycle". At one point I sold motorcycles and never thought I'd see the day of motorcycle snobs, but it has arrived.

I can think of one river road on this side of Oregon where anglers still wave.... most likely because the logging road is the logging road from hell and only the bravest... and evidently most friendly... anglers travel the road.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
You'd be at home in Montana. Just about everybody waves at each other. But it is only on the back roads. Hell any road the is off the main roads is a gravel/dirt road. And some of them are lonely also. Some times you don't see another person in an hour or two.
Sorry for not waving over Satus, I'm usually too busy trying to pass the asshole at the head of the 13 car que that refuses to just fuck off out of the way, to bother with eyeballing the guy in the opposite lane.

and FWIW I'm a back road/slow road waver too, though if I had to put a MPH to it, I pay attention below 25-30. Grew up rural, and it's still in me.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
I'm in rural southern Idaho for the holiday and EVERYBODY here does the finger wave when you pass them. Some 3 or 4 fingers. Some just the 1.



Indi "Ira" Jones
I find a much better success rate with a smile than a wave but it is possible that they were smiling already where as it is much less likely that folks are randomly waving. As a social scientist though I like to manipulate my results so I tend to conduct experiments with greater chances of positive or negative dependingly results.

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
Great post:) I grew up on the peninsula and if you were driving gravel, you waved. Cheap roadside insurance in case you got stuck later in the day.

I then moved to Ellensburg and found the same, Gravel = wave

On Whidbey it is pretty much the same. Gravel or if there is snow on the ground, i find myself waving below 30 mph

Women don't seem to participate, regardless of how primative the road. (unless pulling a horse trailer)

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
Great post:) I grew up on the peninsula and if you were driving gravel, you waved. Cheap roadside insurance in case you got stuck later in the day.

Amazing how that little wave works. I held the door open for a guy at the local Big R farm store and the next day as I was asking permission to get on a piece of land to hunt I heard, "you're the guy who held the door open for me yesterday." A wave and a little courtesy works pretty good.


Active Member
Yep almost lost my wave habits for a few years. last spring I went back to eastern oregon where I loved traveling to and working around - Idaho - wyoming - utah and many western states. first day I was slow to the wave being used to big city finger waving for the last 5 to 8 years. took me a day to catch up with the farm folk and just plain good humanity towards fellow humans. seems it's so far removed from the big city. One of the many things I love about eastern Oregon! good thread !!!