The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 27, 2013

Oklahoma riding a wave of goodwill

ENID, Okla. — In Oklahoma, we like to think of ourselves as friendly.

We are Bible-friendly, according to a survey conducted last winter by the Barna Group.

That study showed Oklahoma City was No. 15 on the list of most Bible-friendly cities in the nation, while Tulsa came in at No. 34.

We are small business-friendly. A survey of small businesses conducted by Thumbtack.com gave Oklahoma a B when it comes to friendliness to small business.

We are bicycle-friendly, but not overly so. In a recent survey by the League of American Bicyclists, Oklahoma ranked 43rd in terms of being friendly to cyclists. The ratings are based on funding for biking legislation, bike programs and policies, infrastructure, education and planning.

We are tax friendly, but not very. Oklahoma placed fifth on the list of least tax-friendly states in a survey conducted by money-zine.com.

This is based on how much residents pay in property, income and sales taxes.

We are gun friendly, but only a little. “Guns and Ammo” magazine lists Oklahoma as No. 30 in its list of best states for gun owners.

We are people friendly, sort of. Oklahoma ranked 41st in a survey of America’s happiest and most miserable states conducted by the website 24/7 Wall Street.

We are friendly to those in need. Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks Oklahoma 11th on its list of most charitable states, with people here annually donating 5.6 percent of their discretionary income to various charities.

Besides, when disaster strikes, Oklahomans respond. It’s what we do. Our response to hard times has become well-known across the country.

Other states can only hope to achieve the “Oklahoma Standard,” when catastrophe befalls them.

And we are just downright friendly. We smile at strangers, strike up conversations with people we’ve never seen before, say howdy at the drop of a hat.

And we wave. Whether driving, walking or rocking in a porch swing, we are conditioned to wave at passersby.

That’s not the case in other places.

A column in the Wall Street Journal recently asked the musical question, “Hey riders, runners, do you wave?”

In it, most runners and walkers interviewed support waving, but not at everyone you pass and doing so in a casual, low-key fashion.

Of course in New York, you could throw your arm out of joint waving at everyone you pass.

Most every morning I walk and run a couple of miles. OK, so I don’t really run, I bob up and down in an exaggerated fashion and flail my arms until my lungs give out — which doesn’t take long.

As I go I wave, not an arm-swinging, emphatic wave, just a quick, but sincere gesture of hello.

Some people wave back. Some even smile. Many fail to do either. I don’t fault these people. Undoubtedly they have their minds on something much more important, like their jobs, their kids, texting or playing Candy Crush Saga on their smart phones.

On occasion they smile. I try to smile back and usually it comes across as more of a grimace, but the thought is there.

I wave as I drive, too. I’m a four-finger waver, leaving my thumb hooked snugly around the wheel. Some people favor the quick one-finger wave. The friendly ones use their index finger.

There’s even a Waving While Driving Facebook page. It only has 36 likes, so I guess the concept is not all that popular after all.

My father-in-law was not a tall man and, like most people as they age, he shrunk as the years progressed.

It got to be all you could see of him as he drove around his small home town in his Chevy was the top of his hat.

The kids and grandkids became more concerned about his driving as he aged. “If you see Grandpa driving by don’t wave,” they would say, “because he might wave back.”

So if you see me walking, or bobbing up and down more or less in place frantically pumping my arms, by all means wave. I promise I’ll wave back.

Just remember, wave friendly. If you use only one digit, please use your index finger.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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