I already shared this on my FaceBook page this week.  Am also going to put it in a blog post and make some additional comments. . . .

Saw this on the Tall Tales of Roger Welsch FaceBook page.  Thought it was right on!


In the parts of Nebraska where I grew up, everyone did the finger wave.  Growing older I ended up spending more time in more urban areas and I noticed a lot less of the “waving”.  Why were people in the city so stuck up?  I even saw some waves I did not recognize.


Spent a couple of years going to grad. school up in SoDakota.  Being a rural state similar to Nebraska, I figured SoDakotans would do the finger wave as well.  They didn’t and don’t.  You get a lot of blank stares when finger-waving up in the Dakotas.  Those people are wired just a little different up there.

That brought me to the conclusion that the finger-wave is really a Nebraska thing.  A rural Nebraska thing.  And, unfortunately, as Captain Nebraska noted, it is becoming less common.

Years ago, on a tour of the state with my buddy Greg Wagner, we spent a lot of time finger-waving at folks.  Greg noted that there are different variations in the finger wave depending on the region of the state.

Some areas creep a second or third finger up.  Maybe that is because their hands are too stiff to get just one finger off the steering wheel?  Some areas the wave will be a quick flick.  Others will put up the finger salute while still out of visual range, but will hold it long past the merge.  Some will do it left-handed, some right, a few confused souls might even throw in a double-handed finger wave from time to time.  The wave will be more of a point in some areas, while in others the finger will be raised ram-rod straight up.  In some regions of Nebraska the finger wave has evolved into more of a raising and twisting of a raccoon paw.

Getting caught day-dreaming,  sometimes I miss the wave.  Hoping to not look snooty and acknowledge an oncoming finger wave, I throw in a last second head nod.

Yes, it is true that the finger waves are more common in more rural areas.  The cynical will say that is because those folks see so few people that they are lonely.  I do not believe that at all.  Like coming across a rattlesnake, when I see a finger wave I know I am finally back home in good country.  In my travels across Nebraska I figure somewhere along Highway 2, about halfway through the state, I will finally start encountering some decent people and finger waves.

Oh yes, you have to be driving one of Nebraska’s best roads to see the finger wave.  I have not seen one on Interstate 80 yet.  No, you gotta be on Highway 2, or 20, Highway 83 or 97, 250, 6, 14, or some other road out in God’s country.

I mentioned earlier that the finger wave is a Nebraska thing.  Believe it tells you a lot about Nebraskan’s, the kind of people we are, the stock we come from.

It says we are independent folk, proud of who we are and the place we live, hard-working and generous, friendly.  Yes, proud, but humble, recognizing that the waver driving from the other direction is made the same way.  They put their jeans on one leg at a time, the same way we do.  When we pass on the road, we want to say “howdy”.  Know this, if you pull over we will be quick to start up a conversation, sharing, and learning, the same things about the other guy.  If both happen to be from Nebraska, the talk will surely include how much rain we’ve got, and the Huskers.  Give us five minutes and we will figure out we know someone in common.

And it don’t make no difference how much newer or nicer your pickup might be.

Don’t forget to wave!


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at

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