Does Your Horn Blow Too

This is a time of year when patients and understanding goes along way on the roads and highways in the Sunshine State. If you want to get a quick quart of milk or a pack of smokes from 7-Eleven chances are that 5 minutes trek will now take a little longer. The streets in Florida in normal conditions are more than sufficient for that quick commute to just about anywhere.
But these are not normal times; this time can only be defined with one word ‘SEASON’.
This time of year between (Super Bowl Sunday and Easter Sunday) is when restaurant owners and shop keepers see their bottom lines grow. Season is the equivalent to Black Friday and Cyber Monday for retailers.
But there are sacrifices to this phenomenon for residents living in the coastal communities of Florida. First and foremost it’s the traffic. There is no more jumping in a car and running up to 7-Eleven and being back before the commercials end. Oh no, in fact there are no more quick trips anywhere. You see our roads, streets and byways were designed and built when 80% of the habitable landscape was swamps and orange groves. There are some streets that still don’t have sewers. Making those homeowners fend for themselves when it comes time to that all important flush of their toilet. Most of us don’t know or care where last nights Paella goes. But there are some that know exactly where it flows, right to the drainage field in the backyard.
OK enough poop talk, back to the roads.
So as a community we must concede to our population tripling in size for 12 weeks and we adjust to the fact that the short run to store may take a few more minutes than normal. It’s also alright that some of the people visiting our state are senior citizens and drive a little slower or in some cases a little faster then we do.
I can’t speak for every Floridian, but some of us don’t like the ever popular Snowbird and those people take every opportunity to make their stay with us a living hell.
You see, I was sort of a Snowbird myself. When my family took the long ride down 95 to the Sunshine State we too were mesmerized by the sight of palm trees and coconuts. Or, the simple fact that it was possible for it to rain on one side of road and not the other. Most of us are very aware that the smell of suntan oil can make some people delirious, causing tourist to watch cranes fly toward the sea, instead of watching the road.
This brings me to the reason for writing this blog, car horns.
Just this week I was sitting at a traffic light making a left hand turn. The traffic was very heavy and I waiting until the light changed from green to amber before I made my move. Now granted, I was in the middle of the intersection and had no where to go, so when the on coming traffic slowed down I made the turn. This didn’t seem to bother anyone and I’m sure most of us have executed this maneuver one time or another. “Oh, I guess I’m committed, I have to go.”
I didn’t know there were two other cars behind me that rode my wake through the red light. Ok, we’ve all done that before as well.
However, before that second car crossed the walkway the vehicle going in the opposite direction deemed it necessary to lay down their horn. I guess to let those folks know a thing or two about proper road etiquette. Well those folks were about 90 years old and their car almost crashed into another because they were so freaked out. I guess if they crashed that guy blowing his horn would feel justification RIGHT (NOT).
This made me think about my own horn usage and I can honestly say except for the friendly double toot letting someone know the light has been green for at least 30 seconds I have never use my horn. That’s right 30 years of driving and I’ve never blasted someone for something I probably did the day before. When I asked a few people if they used their horns the answers was always the same, NO.
So as I was driving down the road the other day I thought about my horn and other peoples horns as I listened for one to see what kind of person utilizes their horn regularly. “Whoa, there goes one, oh that was just two friends saying hello.”
“There’s another one, oh that person was just sitting at the light by himself – weird.” Then it happened, I was in a congested flow of traffic. In front of me; an elderly couple in a big Buick, to the right, a young kid driving a small pickup and behind me a Mom and her kids in an SUV. Then a little car maybe an eclipse darted over to my lane then back again. Every move he made caused him to loose ground not gain it.
As we all traveled through a major intersection this little bastard changed lanes (which is illegal) and cut off large pickup truck. Well this pickup truck had one of those railroad horns (also illegal) installed and blasted one out. I almost soiled my pants and unfortunately the person in front of him was not the eclipse but the elderly couple. When I reached the next traffic light I was next to the elderly couple, the women was upset and the guy looked like he was having a heart attack. I rolled down my window and asked them if they were OK. I also explained to them that the blast was not meant for them but the little sports car that was now long gone. I think they felt a little better but I thought the guy in the truck should say something to them. So at the next light I made sure I was even with the pickup. I motioned for him to roll down his window. After explaining to him the situation he flipped me the bird. Before he left, I shouted “hey those horns are illegal in this State and I’ve got your plate number. So I hope I see you apologizing to those folks at the next light.” Well, his wife or girlfriend extended his previous reply and added a green loogie on my windshield. But something must have sunk-in because at the next light I could see he was talking with the old couple, small victories.
My research has taught me that car horns were installed for the safety of pedestrians and animals. In the early 1800’s horns were installed in self propelled vehicles so that pedestrians and horses could be alerted because the vehicles were difficult to stop. Well I think we’ve past the need to alert pedestrians and cattle because of our cars inability to stop. Why do we have car horns anyway? Is it to say hello to a passing friend, or scare the shit out of the person in front of you. If you use your horn, isn’t it too late anyway. Our reaction time is not that good to alert someone to avoid an accident or correct a traffic infraction.
The car horn in most cases is used improperly and probably causes more accidents then prevents them. What gives any of us the right to judge some ones driving skills when we damn well know we do the same things? Of course, if we fly through a red light or pass someone in an intersection and another driver horns their opinion our way, we call them assholes. Someone today blasted me at a four way stop thinking that the proper procedure was to yield to the car on the right. (WRONG) Four way stops, don’t get me started.
Anyway think about it. Do we need car horns? Listen the next time you’re driving not many people use them and the ones that do probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place. And for God sakes if you plan on coming down to the Sunshine State this winter look at the palm trees when you’re walking down our streets.