Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Saskatchewan Finger Flip or Wave

I am not sure if this cultural phenomenon is restricted to Saskatchewan. I believe it may also be found in Manitoba and perhaps in certain areas in Alberta. It may also be found in the rural areas of the US but I have no idea. It is the finger flip or wave while driving. NO - not that finger! You will find that everywhere. This I believe to be found only in rural areas.
When one is driving in rural Saskatchewan one will find that almost every vehicle that passes by the driver will wave. But it is a particular wave. It is not a real wave as that would be both dangerous and over demonstrative - which we Canadians abhor. It is only a slight raising of the two fingers while holding onto the steering wheel. This is, of course, reasonable for safety reasons (especially when one is driving on a gravel road where the finger flip/wave is universal). The finger flip/wave is also often accompanied by a slight nod of the head at the same time. I have also noticed that this is, as far as I can tell from my scientific calculations, solely a male practice. I cannot recall ever receiving a finger flip/wave from a woman driver.
I grew up in a city where the finger flip/wave does not exist. It would be ludicrous to drive around and wave at every vehicle that you passed. But I was aware of the finger flip/wave as I had been waved at many times while driving out of the city - but I never reciprocated. I thought it was weird and silly and I even mocked the finger flip/wave. I realized that the people who were waving at me were only doing it because they thought that since I was driving down that road I must be a local and they ought to wave. You wouldn't want a neighbour to pass by and not wave - so therefore you wave at every vehicle no matter what! I always wondered what they must think when I did not wave back.
However, now, since I have been out in the rural areas more driving around making visits and driving to and from Indian Head (as Vacancy Pastor) I have become a finger flipper/waver. I have had to discover a few new routes out on the grid roads where, as I mentioned, the finger flip/wave is a universal practice. I have embraced it. I have grown to like it. I am sure 99% of the time I don't know the person. But I figure, why not? I even have my technique down perfectly. A slight raising of the two fingers with an almost imperceptible head nod.
So if you are out driving around Fort Qu'Appelle and/or Indian Head - wave!


Ritewinger said...

I'm still trying to break this habit in the city, I have noticed that even people who know each other and who would say hello if they passed while walking, do not wave when meeting in vehicles.

I also wonder if on gravel roads, the wave/flip is a sort of "thank you" for slowing down and not stoning your windshield, because you certainly don't give the wave/flip/nod to those who rip past you.

Mike Keith said...

I wonder if it is, at least partly, for slowing down and not stoning your windshield? Yet, I think it is also simply greeitng people that in most cases in rural Saskatchewan you likley know if you are on the same road.

nat said...

Maybe you can give me some "pointers" (pun totally intended) on the perfect finger wave. I've seen it done before, but never tried it myself...I, too, made fun but I probably shouldn't because it's serious business out here!

Mike Keith said...


As far as pointers go....I think it is just a natural instinct!

pr. alex klages said...

It's similar here in Manitoba on the grid roads, and I think it really is an acknowledgement of thanks for not trashing your windshield.