Cruising into Jeep culture



Illustration by

Ben Kane, Contributing Writer

When I was 17 years old I got my ocean blue Jeep Wrangler. Being from Rhode Island, there wasn’t too much to do, so I often just went for drives and listened to music.

The first time I went out, I drove past a white Jeep Wrangler with a black top and they waved at me. I didn’t think much of it and continued my drive. Then as another Jeep drove past, they waved at me again, then again and again. The cycle happened over and over and I became more and more confused.

After I finished my drive, I went home and did a little research. It turned out there was something called a “Jeep Wave.” It’s as simple as holding up your pointer and middle finger, almost like a peace sign, when a Jeep passes you heading in the opposite direction.

There are many theories as to how the Jeep Wave began. For example, some people believe it began after World War II as a way to salute soldiers because many came home from the war and bought Jeeps. Others believe that it actually began during the war to differentiate enemy from an ally as Jeeps were often used as a way to transport supplies.

For most people, the wave starts as an unatural and robotic type of action, but slowly it becomes very subconscious. I have gone from forcing myself to be cognizant that a Jeep was driving in my direction to passing by a Jeep when I was driving my dad’s pickup truck and flashing the wave.

The wave, however, isn’t where Jeep owners stop. Ever heard of the childhood game, duck, duck, goose? Jeep owners have taken this game and put their own spin on it. It’s called duck, duck Jeep and the rules are very simple. It’s a game that usually occurs in the summer months. If you see a Wrangler parked, leave a rubber duck in the door for the owner.

It sounds very fun, but odd, and that’s exactly what I thought at the beginning. Working at a beach all summer, I’d see thousands of cars come in and out of our parking lot every day, including many Jeeps. After seeing a woman with a Stop & Shop bag stuffed to the brim walk towards my car, I became suspicious.

I watched her walk away and sprinted towards my car to see if anything was damaged. After quick inspection, everything seemed in place–apart from the little rubber duck playing the guitar that was stuffed in my door. I walked back to work and asked my friends to check their cars for an aquatic friend, but they didn’t have one.

This happened multiple times throughout that summer, but only the final time a note was left with the duck that had a QR code to a Facebook Group. It was a group designated to show off all the rubber ducks people had received and handed out.

While I have never returned the favor, I do now have a very big rubber duck collection that sits on my dashboard to show everyone in the world that I’m a real Jeep owner.

As corny as it sounds, owning a Jeep is more than owning something that takes you to and from places, it’s a way of life. The Jeep community is such a close and tight knit group unlike any other, and I’m so happy I randomly stumbled upon it.