Daily Archives: September 18, 2011

Texas Thumb and Finger Signs

Driving rural roads in Texas requires a lot of savoir-faire, cunning, and savvy. One minor slip and a person can find himself blessed with a new image because he violated a highway protocol.

That’s right. Greeting oncoming motorists in rural Texas is important business.  You never risk the full finger howdy unless you know the guy you’re giving it to well enough to anticipate exactly what he’s up to.

Once you’re committed to the full finger howdy there’s no getting out of it.  If he responds by staring ahead, looking off into the pasture through his passenger window, he wins.  He’s communicated to you that he’s enough more important than you he can practice the one-upsmanship of ignoring you.  He’s disdained your greeting, while awarding himself the uplifting feeling of having insulted you without danger of being insulted in return.

The most common way rural Texans avoid overstretching their trust in their fellow motorists is to hold out for a sign from the oncoming driver that he’s going to indulge in a greeting.  This is awkward because it ends up being a game of chicken, each driver trying to out-wait the other to insure not being a loser, while avoiding being thought a snob.

Carefully executed, the tentative hat tip can be a good maneuver, both defensively, and offensively.  Defensively, the user can quickly change from a full finger howdy in progress to snatching the hat and wiping his forehead on his sleeve in the blink of an eye.  Offensively, he can perform this maneuver AFTER the other driver has committed, thereby, winning.

At highway speeds and in traffic usually there’s no time to complete the more complex rituals involving headgear.  Instead, the game gets played from the top of the steering wheel.

The index finger acknowledge can have a number of different meanings.  It might mean, “I don’t know who you are, but I don’t want to risk being rude.”  It might mean, “Yeah, I see you but I’m not enthusiastic about it.”  Or it might mean, “I don’t have time to play,” or, “I’m not from around here.”

The fast three finger hi means, “You almost got me.”  Slower, it means, “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you around but I haven’t formed an opinion of you yet.”

The full-hand steering wheel howdy is usually reserved for dirt roads or slow traffic and close acquaintances.  It expresses, “I’m willing to stop and talk if you want to, but I’m not married to the idea.”

The spread hand steering wheel howdy usually means, “That hay you’re hauling is on fire.”  However, sometimes it might mean, “That trash bag you threw out is caught on your antenna and waving around beside your Confederate battle flag.”

Thumb up canted right means, “Yeah, them boys won last night.”  Or, “Yeah, I heard they dropped the DWI charges.”  Or, “Yeah, I heard you won the lottery.”

Thumb up canted left means, “Just because I’m acknowledging you doesn’t mean I’m your new best friend.”

Then, of course, there’s always this.  Usually stopped, or molasses-slow traffic.  It can mean a lot of things, but one way or another it always means the same thing.  The guy needs a shave and haircut.

Old Jules

Dinah Shore – Dear Hearts And Gentle People – 1949


8AM afterthoughts:

http://selousscouts.blogspot.com/ featured a compact camping setup this morning worth the watch called swissbox home board.  It’s expensive, but a person with a few tools and a bit of imagination could probably produce something similar for the inside of a van or camper, or use outdoors as depicted in the video.  Customized for personal preferences and needs.

Along similar lines http://www.clickclackgorilla.com/ featured RelaxShacks, http://relaxshacks.blogspot.com/ which offers a lot of ideas for other approaches to somewhat the same problem.

Way leads on to way and RelaxShacks led to TinyHouseTalk http://www.tinyhousetalk.com/category/tiny-houses/  .  Lots of good ideas and info there.


This morning I saw the first deliberate aggression I’ve ever beheld on the part of a doe.  When I went out to turn the chickens loose and feed them she came in close and didn’t agree to be run off even a little way while she waited for me to throw out chicken feed to the hens.  I waved a stick at her and she picked out an Australorp layer about 30 yards away, ran at her, kicked her rolling, and appeared intending to do more if I hadn’t come running and yelling to the rescue.

This might be the beginning of a change in policy regarding these starving critters.  I’ve tolerated them storming the place, robbing chicken feed, being a pesky nuisance constantly, even doing minor damage, but I’m not going to tolerate attacks on the hens or cats.

Old Jules