HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Chances are, if you live or commute in Hattiesburg or Petal, you have seen or heard Billy Ray Brier in traffic. Riding his Harley, while wearing bright clothes and gloves, he waves constantly as he travels to and from work every day.
"I get a lot of looks; people, you know, having a bad day give me strange looks," said Brier. "But I like it, it's something to do, I enjoy it and people like it."
Brier is originally from Pennsylvania. He was enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and while serving, moved to the coast for training classes. After his time with the Navy, he met the love of his life and continued living in Mississippi.
He first started waving 25 years ago while living on the coast. Brier said he continues to wave in the Pine Belt because it brings a smile to people's faces.
"It breaks up monotony; driving down the highway, constantly facing forward, it breaks up the monotony," Brier said. "I keep my eyes on the road and everything. Somebody drove up alongside me and said,' why do you wave like that?' I said well, I wave for the same reason people text. You want to text and drive, I'll wave and drive. That's basically why I do it."
Local residents usually enjoy the waving. Stephanie McLemore of Petal and her daughter waited patiently to hug Billy Ray Brier and thank him for his actions.
"You never see him off his motorcycle, he's always driving, I finally got a chance to speak to him," said McLemore. "He's going out of his way, he's taking time out. He's go places he needs to be, and he's taking time out, waving and blowing his horn at everybody."
McLemore explained that even though some people may not wave back at Brier, for most, the small positive gesture means the world to someone else.
"That one little wave that he does, it throws you off when you first see it the first time, but it makes you happy and you know, hey, somebody cares," McLemore said. "I have not seen anybody around Petal do that but him, and we've been here almost 10 years."
A teary eyed Brier hugged McLemore as she continued.
"He's the only one that will take his time out and let everybody know, 'Hey, have a good day after work,'" said McLemore. "We're glad to have him, we're glad to call him Petal."
As for Brier himself, he plans to keep waving and honking the customized horn on his Harley Davidson. He is happy the community around him thinks highly of his waving, and hopes they continue to wave back.
"I'll never stop," Brier said. "As long as I'm alive and being able to ride the bike, I'll never quit waving."