July 20, 2020
One of the great things about working on my Grandfather’s farm was being able to drive around the back country in an old pickup. I noticed the old timers in the area would wave to me as I drove past. I realized what they were doing and began to return their waves. As the summer progressed, I saw a difference in the waves. When I first arrived, they recognized I was in my Grandfather’s truck, so they acknowledged me by raising one finger on the right hand off the wheel. As the summer progressed, they realized I was the grandson, so I got two fingers off the wheel. Later when I drove with my grandfather at the wheel, we would get the two fingers raised slightly above the wheel. There was a hierarchy of acceptance.
We purchased our Wrangler and quickly moved to Arkansas. As we drove around our new town, I noticed other Wrangler drivers would wave as we went by. This was generally a wave of two fingers of the left hand off the wheel. At first, I thought they were mistaking me for someone else, as I noticed the large number of Wranglers that drove through or around our town. Then I saw a Jeep commercial and the Wrangler driver raised the two fingers as they passed another Wrangler. That is when I learned about the Wrangler Wave.
There are some “how, when, and why” elements to the Wrangler Wave, and if you own one, you better know what they are. Otherwise, you may be subject to the wrath of Jeep Nation. There is also a hierarchy for waving, just like on the farm. This determines who waves first. It goes like this. The older the Jeep, the dirtier, if you have the top or doors off, what type of accessories you sport, and lastly the model, and ultimately, all other Jeeps defer to the Wrangler. If you are lower on the scale, it is your responsibility to initiate the wave. Frankly, I have never seen any other Jeep driver other than in a Wrangler wave. I guess they do not understand the culture.
THOUGHTS: The wave is said to have begun after World War II as the GI’s came home. If you owned a Jeep, you were probably a fellow veteran. This created an affinity for each other that has been passed down. Now the affinity is a shared joy in off roading. Creating an affinity for other like-minded people can produce rapid acceptance to the group. It can also be used to exclude others. We have used “race” to separate into us and them, despite the less than 1% difference in all human DNA. Perhaps our affinity should be the Human race. Change is coming and it starts with you.