Since my husband got his Jeep – his self-proclaimend “mid-life crisis” car – I’ve gained a new appreciation for Jeeps in general. It is much easier to maneuver than a mini-van. On a warm day, there’s nothing better than tooling around with the top down. It teaches you minimalism: in a Jeep with 3 kids there isn’t room for much else, and with a soft top, it doesn’t offer much in the way of security, so you can only pack what fits and what you’re not afraid to lose. There’s a life-lesson in there somewhere.

But my favorite thing about the Jeep? The Jeep wave.

Somewhere, there is an unwritten protocol that says “Jeep owners wave to other Jeep owners.” It’s similar to the way bikers will wave to one another as they roar past.

The jeep wave is simple: normally done left-handed, you don’t even need to remove your hand from the wheel. Simply lift the fingers in a salute; acknowledgment of your common coolness.

The first time out in the Jeep, I felt such a thrill when I got my first Jeep wave. A total stranger was waving at me – a gesture of good-will – purely because we had our vehicles in common! I thought that, in time, the Jeep wave would become routine, and lose its meaning.

So far, for me, it hasn’t. Every single time, I am amazed that something as simple as a car can engender such a friendly response in others. I think about how, normally, ensconced in our vehicles we become something less than human, all the metal wrapped around us becoming somehow a psychic as well as a physical barrier from other humanity. We cease to see other cars as modes of transport for the people therein and start seeing them, somehow, as “the enemy” – alien metallic beasts out to achieve their own purposes at the expense of our own. Our adrenaline kicks up, and we honk, yell, curse and gesture at the metal beasts, completely oblivious of its human controller: a mother, a son, a teacher, a firefighter – a fellow human being.

Somehow, being in a Jeep short-circuits, to an extent, that process of separation. In a Jeep, you’re in your vehicle, but not of it. You remember that you are merely a driver, and that all the other vehicles out there are similarly occupied by other drivers; human drivers. That the person who cut you off may not have intended to do so; the driver going so slowly in front of you might be somebody’s grandmother; and the person going around the world to the left might be your neighbor. And you treat them as such.

I have a new slogan idea for Jeep: “Drive a Jeep. Promote world peace.”

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