If you’re walking around campus, second-year computer science graduate student and Binghamton University alum John Weachock might recognize you, even if you don’t know him. Or at least you think you don’t.
But maybe you do know him as the guy who waves to you when you walk to the New University Union, or maybe you see his “free waves” sign as you go to the library. One way or another, Weachock, ‘15, has a bird’s-eye view and is using it to brighten people’s days.
What started as a simple wave has grown into something of a pastime.
“One time some elderly man walked by and just looked up and waved at me and then smiled and walked away,” said Weachock. “So I was like, ‘Oh, wow, that was pretty cool, I wonder if other people will like it when I wave at them.’”
After continuing this practice for a little while, Weachock decided it was time to put up an official sign.
“A lot of people look at me really confused and stuff, and they still do that because they don’t see the signs, but most people get it now,” he said.
So what is the free waves guy doing when he’s not waving at people passing by?
“Mostly I’m just watching Netflix,” he said. “But just classwork and stuff like that. Sometimes reading books.”
Weachock says that a lot of his work is typing, and because he can touch type, it’s easy for him to look out at the window.
That being said, out of the many waves he gets every day, he can’t catch them all.
“I feel bad when I miss a wave,” Weachock said. “Sometimes I’ll be doing work and then I’ll look out and I’ll see someone that’s just looking at me and then they look away before I get a chance to wave at them … I’m like, ‘No, I’m sorry I let you down.’”
While it might seem impossible to keep track, he says that he has counted his waves before.
Weachock says he had a button that he could press every time he waved.
“I think the highest I got was 400 in one day,” he said. “I think it was the week before finals week a few years ago.”
But for the many people that Weachock does wave to, they don’t seem to know him outside of his post.
“Whenever I’m walking around I see people that I wave at a lot, and they just kind of look at me and then look away,” he said.
He says he thinks he’s only been recognized two or three times.
Yet, he has received feedback in other rewarding ways. For example, take a note he found taped to his desk that reads, “Dear Free Waves guy. I wanted to bring you [a] donut because you always make peoples day. Have a good day.” The note was signed “random student,” and when he found it, he also found the promised donut.
Despite the joy Weachock waves bring people, he has heard rumors of his desk being moved to accommodate incoming students.
“My advisor told me that I would probably be moved but that hasn’t happened yet, and it’s been like a month,” he said.
Weachock isn’t excited about the possible new arrangement.
“I’m upset by it because a large majority of why I even come to campus is because I have that desk,” Weachock said. “All of my work I can do just fine at home or anywhere else, but I feel like I have some sort of obligation to go sit there when I do my work.”
But while he still can, he enjoys the reactions he gets from people.
“Anytime you make anyone happy it feels good,” he said.