Last Word: Honk If You Use Your Horn

I’m not much of a honker.

In fact, I’ve owned my car for more than seven years, and still have no clue where the horn is.

Typically, when a situation arises requiring its use, I just frantically pound on the steering wheel, hoping I might inadvertently hit it.

By the time it finally blares, it’s usually too late and the need, like clearing running pedestrians from the front of my car, has already passed.

It’s not because I don’t like the horn, am opposed to the horn or that I don’t understand the value of the horn for things like greeting a familiar passerby, announcing my arrival or preventing certain death.

I just don’t use it.

Instead, if it’s necessary to convey my feelings to another driver, I prefer using more universally recognized forms of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, to get my point across.

Some people, however, blow their horn at every opportunity, even when there’s not a valid reason.

I once had a friend who honked at virtually anything, real or imagined.

She’d see a car waiting at an intersection. Beep. A car preparing to leave a gas station. Beep. A car at a stop sign. Beep. A car making a legal, left-hand turn. Beep.

Finally, when I couldn’t stand it any longer, I asked her what she was doing.

“I just want to make sure they know I’m here,” she replied.

Based on her overall driving ability, I didn’t think it was going to be a problem but kept that to myself.

A current friend of mine has mastered the remarkable skill of riding the brakes while simultaneously accelerating in a violation of physics so groundbreaking, even Stephen Hawking couldn’t come up with a formula for it.

Her “accelerbraking” routinely provokes a significant amount of honking, usually from someone behind her who’s unable to tell if she’s stopping or attempting time travel.

Though I’m not really a honker, I’ve observed that honking has its own set of guidelines and means for interpretation.

The “Would-You-Mind-Looking-Up-From-Your-Phone-Because-The-Light-Has-Been-Green-Since-Last-Week” honk is a short tap that lets the person in front of you know that while you’re doing your very best to be polite, ramming into their vehicle is your next order of business if they don’t stop wasting your time checking Instagram.

The longer, bellowing “Oh-My-God-What-The-Hell-Are-You-Doing” honk is usually reserved for someone who has nearly ended your life with their driving incompetence, or is verging on it.

In certain situations it’s acceptable to use the more aggressive “What-The-Hell-Are-You-Doing” honk in place of the “Would-You-Mind-Looking-Up-From-Your-Phone” honk, including (but not limited to), when you’re speeding to an appointment you forgot you made, just finished a 32-ounce Dunkin Donuts coffee with an hour to go before arriving at your destination, or it’s Monday.

Occasionally, when the infraction is severe enough, like when a cutter sneaks in line after you’ve been sitting in traffic waiting to take an exit, you’ll hear the “Police-Intervention-Required” honk.

This happens when someone is so unbelievably enraged that they continuously hold down the horn with no intention of releasing it. Ever.

If you’re on the receiving end of it, it can only mean one of two things: A driver’s ed refresher course is in order, or you’re from Massachusetts.

Even if I were a honker, I probably wouldn’t use the horn in my car. It’s pretty lame as far as horns go.

It’s not like the one in the Ford Country Squire station wagon that we had when I was growing up.

Sounding like a steam engine pulling into the station, our wood-paneled tank-of-a-car had an impressive horn with a commanding, but pleasant tone, saying “Don’t-Even-Consider-Doing-That-Again, But-Have-A-Nice-Day!”

My minivan hardly compares.

On the rare occasion that I’ve used it, it bleats out a thin, meeeeeehhhhh warning anyone in the vicinity to BACK OFF, because I’ve got groceries in the car and am headed to a school open house.

Maybe the next car I own will have a horn worth honking. If so, it’s possible I might actually use it once in a while. The only downside is that I’ll have to find it first.

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