Waiving: Probably a Southern Thing

Paul Thomas Swann
2 min readMar 13
Photo by Ohmky on Unsplash

Taylorsville, Mississippi: It’s a tiny place in South Mississippi. A guy in a blue Chevrolet pick-up truck drives past me, raises his hand on the steering wheel, and waves as if he knows me.

I don’t know him, but I wave back.

I’m pretty sure that if I tried that in New York City I’d be assaulted and or arrested.

My dad had a habit of always waving at approaching vehicles, one hand on the wheel and the other hand holding a Pall Mall cigarette (ashes on the seat and floorboard).

If a hand was empty, it’d be holding a cup of sugar and milk, with a touch of coffee.

My dad grew up in a little town in southwest Alabama. I’m guessing they wave a lot there.

I grew up with the smell of these aromatic cigarettes and, although I don’t mind the smell of some pipe tobacco and most cigars, cigarettes just kill me.

My dad was a real-life red-headed step-child. At the age of 17, he lied to join the Army. He made it just in time for the end of World War II. This gave him a chance to see some more of the world other than Choctaw County.

Once he told me, during commercial breaks of Black Sheep Squadron, that he’d been, in no particular order, a driver for an Army general, a mechanic, and a drill instructor. At Camp Campbell, the Army even taught him to jump out of perfectly good airplanes.

He didn’t stay in the Army long.

And in the big picture, he didn’t stay here for a long time either.

He left us when he was 55.

Which, was a lifetime ago.

I can’t imagine how he’d react to knowing that I married a Russian, or that smartphones exist, or even what Bluetooth is.

I wish he knew.

Sometimes I can still imagine him driving that blue and white 1974 Chevrolet Pick-up truck with white tool boxes on each side. He’s holding a cigarette and a large cup of coffee is precariously situated in front of him — sloshing occasionally all over the dashboard.

He takes a puff and stretches back against the seat.

And waves at an approaching driver like he’s his best friend.

Photo by Юлія Вівчарик on Unsplash