Waving back starts with us

-A A +A

W.B. Evans

A few years ago, when I did some frequent work-related traveling between Springs’ Customer Service Center and their New York office, several of those “real city boys” used to chide me about one of my neighborly tendencies.

For some strange, inexplicable reason, they perceived my inclination of nodding and speaking to people on the street as a “bad habit.”

Folks in midtown New York City, they said, never make eye contact with total strangers.

If you did, you were asking for trouble.

Well sir, seein’ how my mama taught me different, I kept up my bad habit. You know, I wasn’t mugged once.

Maybe the good Lord looked out for hayseeds like me.

Given that, on our trips to Maryland, it didn’t take more than a couple of visits to get on speaking or nodding terms with folks all over that neighborhood.

I truly believe just about everybody takes notice when a stranger gives them a nod or a smile.

Often on my walk to our mailbox, I tend to stand back when traffic is barreling along close to the curb. Times sure are different than when Robert Rowell stopped by our house twice a day to deliver the U.S. Mail. He was never to busy too stop for a couple of minutes for a brief front porch conversation. Mama always had a tall glass of lemonade (made from ice wagon ice) ready for Mr. Robert as he passed by on his sweltering summer afternoon rounds. That’s what being a good neighbor is all about.

These days, motorists seem to be in a big hurry, but that doesn’t keep me from being a good neighbor. And my friendly gesture is working.

In some instances, I get the feeling I’m on the return side of a well-intended wave or nod as many truckers and some other drivers change lanes and we exchange a “hi” sign.

On the other hand, maybe some drivers don’t want to run over the “crazy old man” waving at ’em.

All of the above rambling came about because of a recent visit to a major shopping center.

You know, when the end of the month comes, there are little items we need quickly and we make a beeline to get ’em and then get out without wasting time.

Now, I have to admit that my schedule of important stuff to do is sorta limited nowadays.

I am no longer concerned with getting to the Parr Theatre early enough for a good seat to see “Two Girls and a Sailor” with one of those free tickets the Junior Chamber of Commerce gave Daddy for investing in a war bond.

But sometimes, I do get in a bit of a hurry, and this was one of those times, which was made somewhat aggravating by the shopping cart I was pushing. It had one of those bumpy, wobbling wheels that was more square than round, which is a headache in itself.

In my haste, I nearly ran over a feller. I offer my apologies, along with a smile, and we struck up a conversation. I figured the man upstairs was tryin’ to remind me of who my neighbor is.

“You know, you’re the first person to speak to me and I’ve been shopping here for three months,” said this total stranger, who is now a friend.

I found this hard to believe because this particular store is noted for patrons engaging in aisle- jamming conversations.

He had moved here to be with a daughter and her family and felt that Lancaster folks were cold and unfriendly. After our initial encounter, he probably wished I was, too.

But, at least he now knows that some of us still offer a friendly smile, nod or a kind word.

You know, is it really that big of a deal to say hello to somebody or to be nice to others?

There was a time when law enforcement officers like Charlie Caskey and Dave Belk used to give motorists and others a wave.

Why? Because they were our friends.

Maybe it’s time for all parties to rekindle that kind of respect, starting with you and me.

If you see me, wave. I’ll wave back.