Wave of Change

cross the street, and folks always said “Howdy” or waved? I mean, Montanans are a friendly bunch and we celebrate our Big Sky heritage together.

But things are changing. Each day on my way to work, I wave to my neighbors—and recently I have begun to notice that not everyone responds to my gesture of friendship. Is my truck too dirty, my wave misinterpreted, or what?

Thus began my unscientific survey of this “wave of change” that I have witnessed. You too can make these same observations and compare your findings with mine.

Who Waves:
•Anyone wearing a cowboy hat
•Rural folks
•Fishermen (and fisherwomen)
•Women in pickup trucks
•Cheap-trailer campers

Who Doesn’t Wave:
•Subaru drivers
•Women on cell phones
•Contractors on cell phones
•Rental car drivers
•College kids
•Native Americans
•German Americans
•Expensive motor home and camper drivers

Now, I do know that there are always exceptions to the rules. I did notice a California-tagged Subaru wave last week. (At least, I think that the “finger wave” used was appropriate.) I seem to see more waves in the morning than the evening. (Maybe folks are too tired after work.) Less traffic means more waves because we tend to get lonely. And everyone waves when the roads are covered with critters.

But what does this survey tell us? Sadly, it means the times they are a-changing! As Bozeman and our state grows, things just get more crowded and too many” new pioneers” need training. So, all of us friendly Montanans need to “cowboy up” and train others about what waving and friendship means. Now be patient; important and meaningful change takes time.

Here are some things to remember:
•The middle finger is not a wave.
•Car horns are for getting deer to look up.
•Cell phones don’t work in many parts of Montana.
•In Montana, we say “Howdy” and mean it.
•Our “personal space” is huge and unthreatened compared to manic city folk.
•With a population under a million, Montanans are simply glad to see one another.

Montanans wave in a variety of ways. One wave is no better than another. But personally, I like the “head-nod” or the “two-fingered hat touch.” Feel free to be creative, but be friendly. The “open handed” wave is popular, but keep it simple. Too much excited waving will make you look like a Smurf on crack. Remember, Montanans are laid back and take things slow. No hurries and no worries!

For you “nonwavers” out there, take home more than a bad attitude and a frown. Start simple. Try one wave at a time. Maybe begin to wave at sure bets. Farmers pulling horse trailers or equipment ALWAYS wave! When you get some love back, share it with others. Work up slowly until you get to the SUVs, and if you really get confident, try the Subarus and other nonwaving snobs. Sit back, enjoy the view, and wave to your new neighbors.