When I was twelve or so, my best friend and I decided to stand on a busy street corner and wave at passers-by. The goal, as I remember, was to see how many people waved back. We fancied ourselves to be amateur sociologists. My mother did not agree—for reasons that are obvious to me now—and put a stop to it.
Until last week, that was my only street-corner-waving experience. But when my tennis-watching friend Michelle invited me to join her in an hour of political-sign-waving, I agreed. In all honesty, if she had asked me to make calls or ring doorbells, I would have politely refused. But I figured that even I could handle the task of holding a sign and waving at folks as they drove by.
My location was the southwest corner of Prospect and College. Without fanfare, I staked out my territory and got down to business. I thought that I might feel silly and conspicuous, at least to begin with, but I was too concerned with managing my sign in the wind, which was gusty enough to be troublesome. I worried that the sign would be blown from my grasp and out into traffic, where it would—naturally—scratch up a passing Cadillac/BMW/police cruiser/Hell’s Angel/angry Rottweiler.
I was also afraid that I would be incapacitated by a foreign object under my contact lens, that someone would douse me with a caramel latte, or that the hypnotically graceful motion of my arm would cause a driver to become distracted and run me over. I’m happy to report that the worst thing that happened was when I stepped on my own shoelace (rookie mistake) and had to retie my shoe. Michelle’s story of once being mooned at that corner is way more interesting.
Using the hand that was not clutching the sign in a death grip, I waved at everyone—plumbers, dog poop scoopers, altogether too many people on cell phones, the Transfort bus, semi-truck drivers, and a New Mexico Game and Fish Biologist. A couple of times, I kind of zoned out and waved at the light pole. I confess that I did not wave with complete impartiality—I gave an extra-happy wave to anyone with a big dog in his or her car.
Some ‘wavees’ scowled, some smiled, and I saw many resolute ‘I-know-you’re-there-but-I’m-not-going-to-look-at-you’ faces. But I had a few successes. One guy gave me the coveted thumbs-up/horn-honk combo, and the little boy who smiled and waved at me from his carseat flat-out made my day. The hour passed pretty quickly, and I came away with a new respect for all the dedicated sign-wavers of the world. I am definitely going to wave back more often.