I used my car horn last night for the first time since I bought my car in July. The long honk was maybe the third or fourth time I’ve used a car horn since I began driving over a decade ago, save for a few times when I saw someone I knew and wanted to say hello.
It doesn’t really matter why I used it. Really, it doesn’t, but you need to know I was immediately embarrassed. I wanted to take it back, hide my face, or go back in time and simply wave hello instead of going to such extremes.
Dramatic? Maybe. But really, nobody around here actually uses the car horn.
I once got in a wreck in a new car because I couldn’t find my horn. I was driving through a mostly empty parking lot in the middle of a Tuesday. I saw the accident coming.There was time to stop it. There was an abundance of time, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know where my horn was, and even if I’d found it I almost think I would’ve hesitated on actually pressing down on the steering wheel for fear that the other driver might think I was just being rude.
I have a confession, when I do rarely hear someone use a horn I immediately assume they’re not from here, a transplant from the North perhaps. I’m not proud of this, but it’s true. And, really, it’s not a knock on the North so much as a reality that people up there tend to be a little more aggressive on the roads.
A couple weeks ago I was in the back of a car in Boston with my boyfriend. His friend was driving in a way that I’m sure is completely normal in Beantown. Still, I couldn’t help being a little nervous. I mean, I trusted we wouldn’t get hurt, and he certainly wasn’t driving any crazier than all the other cars around us, but I’m just not used to that. I’m used to Sunday drivers, people who will sit at a four way stop waving the other person politely ahead… only to get the same wave in return — The Southerner Standoff. If I lived up north I’d either adjust quickly or I would just never actually get anywhere I needed to go. Aggressive driving up there is not rude, it’s proper. It’s a fast paced life, and when that’s what you’re used to you act accordingly.
I’m not what you’d call “used to it”. The truth is, I’ll Mario Andretti curvy rural backroads with no other drivers nearby. I’ll get pulled over for going too fast on small town streets (but you won’t find any tickets to prove that). I’ll race down “rollercoaster roads”, but I am entirely intimidated by aggressive city drivers.
I used my horn yesterday for the third or fourth time in my life, and if I hadn’t been merging onto I-26 at the time, I probably would’ve gotten out to apologize and explain why I pressed down on the button. At least this time I knew where to press.