Honk if you've heard this one

Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.


– Mac McCleary


Car horns can be useful.

If you live out in the country, you can honk at cows that get in the road.

If you live in the city, you can warn vehicles in front of you that you’re rushing to the emergency room because your child:

A. Sat on a fire-ant hill

B. Tried to nail his foot to the floor or …

C. Ate a bowl of Tide just to see what “intensified” tastes like.

Car horns, however, can get you into trouble.

Allow me to share why.

I was navigating a grocery store parking lot when I noticed the large SUV ahead of me had stopped in the lane for no apparent reason.

There was another smaller car behind it and in front of me, and soon the three of us were sitting there unmoving – a stalled parade without its floats.

I waited politely (for two seconds), then swung wide to the left and passed the two stationary vehicles. That’s when the guy in the middle honked his horn, no doubt encouraging the SUV to move it.


The driver of the SUV thought I was the head honker.

As I drove past, she leaned out the window, angrily pointed to indicate she was on her cellphone, then demonstrated a limited but easily decipherable bit of sign language.

I pointed at the other guy, trying to indicate it wasn’t me, but I don’t think she believed it. If she’d known me, she’d know I don’t honk the horn that much.

Every now and then when someone is busy texting at the light and doesn’t notice it has changed. I give them a polite, little “beep.”

If I’m driving late at night on Interstate 20 coming back from Atlanta and the road is vehicle free, I might lay into the horn on lonely stretches just to scare off deer.

But mostly I avoid the horn because there is a common flaw in horn-honking.


You usually can’t tell where the sound came from.

Say, for example, there’s a honk at the red light, and everyone starts looking around trying to figure out who’s honking and why?

You don’t know. Everyone is looking at everyone else with that: “Are you honking at me?” look.

I was once stopped at a light on Washington Road in lots of traffic when someone honked. It could have been any of six cars.

I looked to my left and saw a guy in the turn lane shrug his shoulders. I looked to my right and my eyes were met by a scary-looking woman who thought I had not only honked but was flirting.

She smiled broadly and waved, and started indicating perhaps I should roll down my window and introduce myself.

Then, somewhere behind us, a horn honked again. I hit the gas and moved on quickly.

As I said, car horns can be useful.