Honk if you love the waving man.
Thomas L. Allen Sr. stands on the side of U.S. 21 in Seabrook three mornings a week, waving and smiling at motorists.
He said he’s on orders from Jehovah God.
It doesn’t take big gestures to make someone’s day better.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
“He instilled this in me Aug. 10, 2009,” Allen said Friday morning, cars and trucks roaring by his spot across from the Whale Branch schools. Many of the drivers toot the horn. All but a few wave back.
“Jehovah God wants people to see how His love works through me,” Allen said.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Allen walks a little over a mile from his home on Stuart Point Road to stand by the highway in the dew and the grass from about 7 to 9:30 a.m.
He’s been missing for months because he slipped and sprained an arthritic knee in February. But he’s back now, leaning on a crutch, two weeks short of his 64th birthday.
He comes with a bottle of frozen water. He wears a tank top and has a bright neon vest for the walk before light.
He points at motorists and smiles, the sharp morning sun shielded by a baseball cap featuring Jack Skellington of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Allen talks to precious few people in this fast-lane friendship. But Amy Lane of Port Royal sent a letter to the newspaper saying what it can mean to the drivers.
“My commute is long and often quiet,” she wrote. “I listen to my normal radio show and think about how I wish I could just stay home some days with my almost-4-month-old son. I often smile when something funny is said on the radio, but for the most part, my drive is thoughtless and just so.”
She drops the baby off at Hobbit Hill and heads to her job in owner services at Bray’s Island in Sheldon.
About a year ago, she started noticing the waving man. Back then, he was walking five miles from Stuart Point to the Marine Corps Air Station and back. She figured the waving man in neon pants was simply out for exercise.
But she missed him when he wasn’t there and was happy to see him return this month.
I want to do exactly what Jehovah God created me to do for the duration.
Thomas Allen Sr.
“I want him to know that such a simple gesture has made one person’s morning,” Amy wrote. “You can’t help but smile when you see him! He’s just so happy and for no reason at all. He can’t even do his normal walk up and down the road, but he just stands there waving.
“It touched me because he is there, just standing there trying to make someone’s morning better. The world needs more smiles and waves, and I think we could all learn something from this kind man. It doesn’t take big gestures to make someone’s day better.”
Allen points at drivers. He throws smooches. He shouts to some. A preacher once stopped and told him, “I’m going to see you in heaven.” He stopped again and left him a bottle of water. Most people just honk and wave.
Allen grew up in Stuart Point. He said he dropped out of Robert Smalls High School and learned to be a mechanic in the Job Corps. He said he spent most of his working years in construction — drywall, plumbing, sheet metal, carpentry. “I had thousands of jobs.” Now said he lives on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income.
One of those waving hands is incomplete, and Allen said it helps tell the story of his life. A pinky finger is half missing and scarred. It came from a cold day as a child when there was a fire in the yard and, even though his brothers told him not to do it, he put a little kerosene on the fire. He remembers frantically trying to put out the fire on his hand, and he says the lesson of it all fits with his current belief that your time on Earth is limited and that we’re all going to pass.
“I want to do exactly what Jehovah God created me to do for the duration,” he shouts over the swift traffic. “I’ve done been off course long enough.”
He said he was instructed to wave to people, and he will do it until he gets his next assignment.
“Jehovah God’s spirit is totally connected to my spirit,” Allen said. “This is His doing.”
Amy Lane, the young mother commuting to work, said, “I’ve always wanted to tell him ‘Thank you!’ Thank you for sharing your heart and kindness with others. And if anyone else reads this and happens to drive past this man heading toward Beaufort, please wave back at him.”