Since our little reader’s club here is quite exclusive, I’m taking the liberty of sharing a guest writer in this space.

Robert Chandler is a talented musician, videographer, and all-around television news problem solver from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Since that won’t fit on his business card, his title is actually News Operations Manager for WAFB-TV.

He posted this on September 1, 2014, and it’s as good of a read today as it was four years ago.

Getting The Finger From My Truck

I grew up in the country that WAS Livingston Parish, behind Amite Baptist Church. We were between Denham Springs and Watson, laying claim to neither.

That was the ‘country’ back then, but not today. This in-between area now has a McDonalds, Burger King, and a Sonic. Triple threat. Plus, add Taco Bell, Hot Wok, Subway, a Japanese grill, and a coming Greek place. You get the picture.

So after our recent unpleasantness – for the first time in 40 years, we are REALLY back in the country. Domino’s doesn’t deliver there. That’s REAL country.

We are ‘up on Bluff Creek,’ far enough back in the woods where the FBI and a mad ex-wife would have serious issues finding us. There is no easy internet or cable TV here. No traffic noise. You can hear the deer walking.

This is land where the pickup truck – also called a “Country Cadillac” – rules the day. Everybody has a truck.

I got my first truck back in ’98. It was a Dodge Ram 1500. Black. Standard transmission. All of this to keep the price down to $15k. I loved that truck even with the paint peeling off it. (What is it with Dodge trucks and paint??!?) I drove it till it committed suicide on Greenwell Springs Road at 198K miles. I was just breaking in its second clutch – a point of pride.

So now I have another truck. Another Dodge Ram. Yes, I am like that. But THIS one has Bluetooth, Sirius XM, and a backup camera I installed myself. Fancy-pants stuff.

Trucks can cost as much as $50K new, so it’s even more important than ever that you heed that old Redneck saw about their dogs and trucks, and don’t touch my truck. It’s expensive to repair, and I can’t afford the down time. And it’s a man thing.

On my daily hour-long commute, it’s all truck folks on the road. We just tool down Greenwell Springs Road in a fast, loose convoy until we get into Central. There a couple of Nissan Altimas and used Toyotas slip in. Then the closer to Baton Rouge we get, the truck-wanna-bees in their Range Rovers and BMW Sports Vehicles try to blend in with the REAL trucks.

As I told one of my dear friends, who tried to convince me her Mercedes crossover thingy was a truck. “If you can’t drop an oily Chevy engine in the back of it, it ain’t a truck. It’s an SUV.” She still loves me, though.

There is an unwritten code among the pickup truck crowd. We will let other trucks cut into traffic, hold traffic back for each other, and yes, we back into our parking spaces. We will always stop short to let a big rig or school bus execute a wide turn. We don’t block intersections-that’s just trashy. We are a jovial bunch, helpful to a fault.

It’s a good crew of folks out there. These are the folks from which the Cajun Navy was drawn. (Heck – you have to get your boat to the flood behind a truck, right?!) They might fly flags from their pickup beds, but no harm there. They’re not as much into Southern Heritage or making political statements, as they are about NOT being told what flag they can or can’t fly. You know.

My trucking cousins will pull you out of a flood, push you out of ditches, and get you out of fights if you’re a nice person. Women and children in distress are Holy Ground – a must-stop for the pickup owner.

But if you act like the North End of a South bound mule, they MIGHT help you–depending on your need and attitude. But show one bit of attitude, and you can suck down some billowing black diesel smoke as the gravel sprays behind us while we bid you good day.

Now that a huge part of my hour morning commute is in the country, I have become re-acquainted with the ‘secret-handshake’ of the truck world – the proper Wave.

Truck folks don’t wave like everybody else. That’s not manly.

There are three versions of the truck wave. You are welcome to try these, but if you’re not driving a truck you will probably be ignored. Don’t take it personal, it’s just business.

The’ Standard Truck Wave’ is used for other friendly looking trucks as they pass. Kind of a generic howdy. This involves merely lifting the index finger of your driving hand and pointing it at the passing truck. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR HAND FROM THE WHEEL!! That is amateurish and a rookie move. Just point. Congratulations. You have successfully waved and saved face.

The ‘Augmented Truck Wave’ is reserved for folks you know, or might possibly know. There must be at least fingertip of familiarity with the other truck to trigger an Augmented Wave.

This wave involves lifting your hand completely and visibly off the steering wheel, and pointing at the target truck. Just lift and point. Do not pump the pointing hand, as that is part of another wave. Lift and point. Friendly like.

(Obviously, you need to keep your other hand on the wheel, below the dashboard at about the 6 o’clock position. You know this.) And you NEVER drive a truck with your hands at the recommended 10 and 2 positions! That is a supreme rookie move made by Lexus owners who bought a Nissan pickup for their summer home and are out for their first spin. They soon figure out proper hand placement by peer pressure.

The last wave is the supremo deluxe wave, the “All In.” This is reserved for the closest of friendships, and as as you might expect in truckdom, it comes with a hint of danger.

If you rolled your pickup over in your own yard while driving home drunk, and your buddy helped you right your truck and hide the damage – your buddy is worthy of the ‘All In.’ If you’ve been bailed out together, in divorce court together, or been out smoking together during your daughters’ dance recital, this is your signature move.

The ‘All In’ involves lifting your hand over and demonstrably in front of the steering wheel, pointing at the passing buddy, and pumping your hand back and forth, as if making a point on the chest of a member of ISIS. The more vigorous the pointing, the better the wave. You must keep the pumping finger pointed towards your buddy AT ALL TIMES, even as he passes you. Just pivot with him. A superbly executed ‘All In’ may involve the truck swerving a bit in the lane. Be friendly, but remember – Safety First!

So you’re all in on the secret now. You car owners can practice among yourselves, but don’t go pointing at trucks expecting to join the club. And pointing at a pickup driver is fraught with danger if not correctly done.

It’s a manly fraternity. But females driving trucks now are quite common, and they are a special breed of woman. They can change their own oil, fix a flat, and they get their deer every year. God love ‘em! And if they’re blonde with a pony tail pulled through the back of their pink John Deere cap, they’ll never buy their own beer till age 60 or so.

It’s back to work tomorrow. All my trucking cousins seem to hit the road about 445 am. I see them with their trucks nose to nose at Flenikens, smoking and drinking coffee as the sun rises, waving at the passing gravel trucks.

Just reminds me again that all is well with the world, and there is still a reserve of common sense and manly decency in this country.

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