Okay, so my roots are small town. Kalama was (and may still be) right around 1500 in population when I lived there. While walking or driving around town (even the backroads) most everyone greeted each other with a wave or a "hey there". Even if you didn't have some kind of relationship with them, chances are you still knew who they were. When N and I moved to Tillamook, it was pretty much the same. Those index fingers seemed programmed to pop up in reaction to a passing vehicle. Maybe they assumed if you were in Tillamook you were friend or family (unless it was a weekend). Roseburg was a little less with the "steering wheel finger wave", but eye contact and smiles were always plentiful during our 6 years there. Then we moved to Salem.
I think I cried on N's shoulder everyday for the first year. "What's wrong with these people? Why won't they lift their face to you in greeting or smile or say "hello"?" Eventually, I'd repeat this on the phone to everyone in the family and want to discuss it with the local folk we began to get to know. No one had an answer, but I did find a lot of sympathetic ears.
Then I began to discover that there would be certain days (not many, but who's counting) when everywhere you went people would look at you, share a smile or a greeting, strike up small talk while waiting in line. At one point I was sure it had to do with a blue sky day after several dreary ones or maybe the phase of the moon. I still don't know. But today? Everywhere in Salem I went people were smiling and talking. I wallowed in it and savored it and when the sun goes down I'll stash it away until the next one comes along. Kinda like getting my battery charged--guess I'm not such a hermit after all!