Rowing along the freeway

Yesterday, driving up 880, I was startled by unexpected motion to my left, so I glanced at the car that was passing me there.

There was a white guy in his 20s or so, leaning his whole upper body out of the passenger window, surprisingly close to my car. Probably not quite dangerously close, but closer than one expects on the freeway.

His fists were moving up and down in an odd pattern. He wore a look of fierce concentration.

And I realized that he was rowing.

Wielding an invisible oar, miming rowing his car fast along the freeway.

I smiled at him, puzzled but amused. He ignored me.

The car finished passing me, and he shifted back to being mostly inside, with just his head sticking out.

And then as they began to pass the car in front of me, he leaned more fully out the window again and began to mime rowing again.

At least, I think that's what he was doing. It's possible he was engaging in some kind of ritual battle-dance.

But it looked sort of vaguely like rowing.

They passed that car, and he ducked back inside. Then they began to pass an 18-wheeler, and he did the same thing again, but this time leaning way upward toward the truck driver. The miming looked even less like rowing from that angle.

They passed the truck, he withdrew, and the last I saw of them he was beginning the next episode with the car in front of the truck.

I have no idea what was going on. I'm tentatively guessing it was freeway performance art, just a fun unexpected thing to do for other drivers' amusement. I think it was pretty dangerous in various ways, but nobody seemed to be reacting badly to it. The rower wore the same look of serious concentration the entire time; he didn't smile, but he didn't look especially angry or upset either.

Have any of y'all encountered something like this? Is it a new Thing To Do, like planking or owling? Does this guy travel up and down 880 rowing at people all day?

2 Responses to “Rowing along the freeway”

  1. josh.t.burdick

    I’ve been passed by a car with people sticking an arm out each side, miming flying.

  2. Stacey

    It means that the person (you, car in-front of you and 18-wheeler) are driving too slow for his taste, so the rowing motion tells you that you are driving like you are in slow raft


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