The “hi sign” (also called the “hidy sign” or “one-finger wave” or “Medina wave” or “Texas finger wave") is when one driver lifts the index finger to another driver to say “thanks.” This usually occurs at four-way stop signs. This sign is seen much more often on country roads than in cities (where there are stop lights).
The Hi Sign
by Anne Dingus
It’s casual, it’s concise, and it makes you feel at home on lonely country roads.
Texas’ motto is “Friendship,” and Texas’ highways cover more miles than any other state’s, and the intersections of those two facts is the hi sign, the laconic one-finger wave shared by rural travelers. In the days of the open range, when pioneers saw ano ther wagon of lonely wayfarers on the trackless plains they could always rein up and chat awhile. But we modern Texans travel 55 miles an hour--at the very least--and can barely slow down for a pit stop. Thus the hi sign was born. By using it, we convey our goodwill to our fellow drivers and reaffirm our reliance on each other during long trips across isolated country. The hi sign is strictly a highway courtesy, an automotive gesture developed for a modern age. A person on horse or on foot raises his who le hand, but the demands of travel on wheels dictated a specialized wave.
Body language for “howdy,” the hi sign is the simplest of waves, merely the raising of the forefinger of the driving hand, which does not budge from its draped position across the top of the steering wheel, the attitude struck by most long-distance or travel-wise drivers. (The other arm is out the window or on the armrest, depending on the weather and your driving speed.) Giving the hi sign also provides an opportunity to stretch a cramped hand, thus accomplishing two purposes at once. It wastes no energy; it is a model of efficiency, like all nonessential movements by country folks who must save their labor for the land. But be alert. The hi sign is brief, often lasting only a second.
The hi sign does not exist in or near cities, where drivers are more likely to flash a neighboring finger.
Don Ramon, El Humorist
Driving in Texas
Tribute should be paid to a rather nice Texas custom, the one finger wave. This usually occurs in town or a quiet drive down a country road. It works like this—two vehicles approach each other in leisurely fashion (under 100 mph), one driver without ever removing his hand from the steering wheel raises his first finger (the one closest to the thumb) as a greeting. This is frequently accompanied by a slight bobbing of the head. The other driver generally responds in like manner. It’s casual, friendly, and nice.
There is also another one finger wave practiced by both drivers and pedestrians, which is neither friendly nor nice. A different finger is used and it is generally accompanied by a somewhat obscene suggestion. This one finger wave is not indigenous to Texas. I have seen it used in Alabama, Ohio, and by little old ladies at bingo games at retirement villages in Florida.
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Subject: Re: When we get to heaven
oh and don’t forget the finger..when you do down the road they lift their index finger to the cars passing to say hi once I lifted the wrong finger (j/k)
by Laurence Parent (photos) and Joe Nick Patoski (text)
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
You know you’re in Far West Texas when the handshakes are firm, no matter if it’s a man or a woman doing the shaking, when drivers of vehicles passing in the other direction lift a finger off the steering wheel—the Hidy sign—as a form of greeting no matter where you are, and you see mountains no matter where you look.
How to get along with Texans
by TheLibra Thu Jan 24 2002 at 22:22:52
While Driving: Acts of courtesy while driving in Texas are practically law in some areas, and crimes in others. It is best to watch and see how other drivers are reacting before initiating contact. But the general guideline is this: If someone lets you cut in front of their car, it is considered polite to look at them in the rearview mirror and raise your right hand with all fingers extended (which says thank you), but do not wave your hand (which indicates they can pass you) or hold your fingers together (which indicates you are greeting forward, rather than backward). If you are at an intersection and wish to signal someone to go ahead of you, then nod while simultaneously extending the fingers your “driving hand” outward and back in. You will want to keep your fingers together while doing this. For nighttime driving, if someone is needing to cut in front of your car in traffic but appears unsure if they have room or if you are aware, you can signal the “go ahead” by flicking your brights once.
Google Groups: rec.music.country.western
From: “Barbara Sherrill”
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 22:21:40 -0800
Local: Thurs, Jan 23 2003 2:21 am
Subject: Re: Music That Means Something
You would love to live where my mom lives. Over 20 miles outside of San Angelo Texas in the middle of No Where West Texas. Strait, team ropes with the guy that lives a quarter of a mile from her. She said everyone knows when Strait is near by the helicopter is a dead give away. Back to my thought and you… Being way out there in the middle of no where, everyone waves to the other as they are driving by. It is the coolest thing and if you don’t wave out there then you are considered rude and inconsiderate. My daughter has become a pro at driving and doing the one finger wave with her
index finger. It does make you feel good, you tend to forget your troubles when a stranger offers you a friendly smile and wave.
Joe Nick Patoski
It’s a Texas Thang - Or Is It?
The Texas Observer
BY JOE NICK PATOSKI
December 3, 2004
Over time I came to discover Texas culture expressed in the literature of McMurtry and Graves, the films of Horton Foote and Robert Rodriguez, sports (Dallas Cowboys, Texas Longhorns, Texas Aggies), food (you name it), and couture (hats, buckles, etc.). Besides Texas music in its various forms, I championed the three basic Texas food groups (BBQ, chicken-fried steak, and Tex-Mex), indigenous folkways such as rodeo, the Hidy sign, Big Red, Dublin Dr Pepper, dancehalls, jeans, and handmade boots—the icons that make us stand out from everybody else.
Texas Hold ‘Em:
How I Was Born in a Manger, Died in the Saddle, and Came Back as a Horny Toad
by Kinky Friedman
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin
(Originally in Texas Monthly, April 2003—ed.)
There is a phenomenon that sometimes occurs around small towns like Medina that some call the “hidy sign” but I call the “Medina wave.” A driver encountering another vehicle on the highway will casually, effortlessly raise his index finger from the wheel in a brief salute, acknowledging the other driver, the countryside, and life in general. The other driver, unless he’s new to these parts, will respond in kind. Occurrences of the Medina wave diminish as you reach the outskirts of the bigger towns, disappearing almost completely as you travel farther, or at least that’s how it used to be. With so many new people in the area, the custom is vanishing like the fast-moving tail of a comet. These days, you’re just as likely to see drivers saluting each other with their middle fingers.
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From: “El Alumbrado”
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2005 16:28:22 -0600
Local: Sun, Jan 9 2005 6:28 pm
Subject: Re: Class A campers that pull a car?
We would give each other the standard Texas “finger wave” (no, not THAT finger) and drive on.
The Texas finger wave...
05-09-2007, 04:16 PM
You guys know what I’m talking about? 30 years ago you waved at every car/truck you met on the farm to market roads with the Texas one finger wave...since the roads were so narrow and bumpy you didn’t really want to take your hands off the wheel so you just used your index finger...I still do it now but get fewer and fewer return waves every year....
Soooo...who in here does the finger wave? and I’m not talking the middle finger either LOL.
05-09-2007, 04:19 PM
I usually raise four fingers, leaving my hand on the wheel. Unless you deserve the one finger, then my hand is out the window just joking, I don’t do that.
05-09-2007, 04:20 PM
I do it - but use 2 or 3 fingers or if my window is down I will wave like a normal person - but was informed last week by my fiance that I only do wave at trucks - I would say I get a wave back 1 out of 5 in the city - when I get out of the city - it is much more common - I even wave to cars.
05-09-2007, 04:22 PM
and I’m not talking the middle finger either LOL.
glad you put that disclaimer in there. LOL. you know a smart arse like me would’ve thrown that out there. I wave at dang near everyone except when i’m goin down the interstate. waves still happen in the country just hardly ever in the city. I even will give people a nod from time to time when i pass them and we make eye contact in the city or country. (sad thing is i’ll probably get shot in the city for doing it one day.):eek:
05-09-2007, 04:24 PM
Here’s the way I see it. The smaller the road is, the more important the finger-wave is. For example it’s not practical on state highways - you are going too fast. The finger wave is recommended, but not required on Farm to Market Roads, but it is absolutley required on County Roads and other gravel/caliche roads. Just basic Texas etiquette…
The Cowboy Code
Monday, May 14, 2007
Texas Charm School Lesson 3
If you find yourself driving down the rural roads in Texas you will quickly notice the finger wave. Texans drive with one hand on the top of the wheel. As you approach oncoming traffic, the drivers will raise two fingers on that hand. This is the finger wave.
This may seem trivial but it aint. This is a big deal. If you fail to finger wave of return the finger wave Texans will think less of you. You will be considered, “stuck up.”
The finger wave is not the only important wave in Texas roadway etiquette. There is also the passing wave. This is not to be confused with the pass me wave. The passing wave is needed when someone pulls to the shoulder to let you pass. Failure to execute the passing wave will be interpreted as ingratitude.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, October 02, 2007 • Permalink