By John Matonich
I don’t think anything brings people together more than a shared interest or a shared goal. You can see it all the time especially when it comes to things like sports. The day of a big game, the jerseys come out and are worn with pride. You can also see them the day after a game if the team of your choice is successful in getting a win. School pride can happen all the time with apparel, stickers, jewelry and the like. When someone sees another with a common interest, it can lead to a handshake, a wave or at least a nod, even if you may not know the person.
Here is God’s Country, there is always a lot of that type of acknowledgment going on. Given the population is so small, everyone recognizes the vehicle you drive and a wave as you head down the road is not uncommon. As I travel to my shop in the morning, I see many of the same people heading in the opposite direction traveling to their daily destination and of course a wave is in order. I may not know the folks very well, but I know they are from the local area and they know I am too, so that acknowledgment of our shared status means a number of waves each morning. That isn’t something you see very often in more populated areas. The pace is faster there and the recognition of neighbors isn’t as common.
Besides local folks, another group that rarely fails to acknowledge each other are motorcyclists, especially if you are riding a Harley. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 15, but really started to experience this brotherhood when I bought my first Harley over 20 years ago. I still enjoy heading down the road and seeing another motorcycle heading in my direction and sharing a wave of common interest. No matter where I have been riding, even in the most urban of settings, a wave is in order when passing another Hog. I also enjoy seeing other Harley owners when they are wearing some of their favorite apparel and taking note of the location of the dealership they bought it from. I have seen shirts from all over the world and I think it is kind of cool to think folks may have been there rather than just placing an order.
Recently, I have noticed another brotherhood I apparently belong to, but it has taken me a while to catch on. I bought an old Jeep a number of years ago to have at the lake in case we needed another vehicle when we came up from downstate on short trips. It has served us well and I use it quite a bit now that we live here full time as it helps save some miles on my pickup. My Jeep is about 25 years old, rides like a WWI tank and sucks gas like a muscle car, but I bought it for a great price and it has been a very reliable mode of transportation over the years.
I noticed shortly after I bought it, if I saw another Jeep of a similar model, I would get a wave from the driver. I would always wave back, but didn’t draw the connection until recently. I guess this model of Jeep has a following almost as strong as Harleys. I didn’t buy it for that reason. It was simply the right vehicle for us to have as a spare, but now I watch for similar Jeeps and wave as they go by. The ones I see are usually a lot newer and are driven by folks a lot younger than I am. What I really enjoy is seeing the smile on their face when they realize the ole girl I am driving is quite senior to theirs and I get a nod of respect that this ride is still taking me to and from where I am heading that day. I think my Jeep is eligible for an antique vehicle license plate next year, but like me, it isn’t ready to be an antique just yet. We will just keep waving to the younger folks as we head down the road.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.