Every community has its own little quirks. I suppose this one is ours. Fellow rural firefighters and EMT’s use this little greeting while passing each other on the road. It’s the three fingered wave. You see it most when you’re driving the ambulance, and other motorists with fire department or EMS plates will greet you with it. Although, from time to time, I have seen other emergency service workers do it from POV to POV…as in one driver sees that another driver also has a fire/EMS plate, and will give them this little wave. I guess it’s a less bad ass equivalent to the little peace sign that motorcyclists use to each other. It’s just one of those, “Hey, I’m one of you. Super secret squirrel hello to you too, brethren!”
It goes like this. You’re cruising around, off to the fire station, home, grocery store, bingo, squash lessons, or wherever else your day is taking you. While you’re enjoying your leisurely drive, jamming out to a little Journey (or whatever you listen to), you see a car coming around the bend traveling in the opposite direction. Oh, what’s this? There’s a little red half-plate above, and a little blue half-plate below the license plate? You don’t say? It appears to be a fire department member! You don’t recognize the car, so it’s not a department you work for or with. Regardless, a red plate means fire department, and a blue plate means EMS. Well, it appears the other driver has also taken notice of your little half-plate too. He smiles as you draw closer, and he executes the three-fingered wave maneuver. And, being a polite little country bumpkin, you return the three-fingered wave.
Now, this wave is kind of tricky to explain. It starts with your hands on the steering wheel. You move one hand to the top of the steering wheel so it can be seen above the dash (for purposes of this explanation, let’s say it is your left hand). You grip the steering wheel with your left pinky and ring finger (and, of course, your right hand is also on the steering wheel so you have control of the car. The last thing you want to do is run your car off the road or into your newly-made EMT friend). Then, you raise and spread your middle finger, pointer finger, and thumb, with your palm facing the road.
It’s basically the peace sign with your thumb added in there. Only, it’s less throw-back-y. It’s the same sign than Germans use when indicating the number “3″ (apparently they don’t use the ring, middle, and forefinger like we Americans usually do), or the American Sign Language sign for “3″ (only with the palm facing outwards instead of inwards).
Just an odd little thing I noticed (and kind of like) about my region.