There are two types of people in the world: 1) people who blow their car horns and, 2) people who hate people who blow their car horns. I fall in the latter category. I am what one would call a Non-Horn Honker (N.H.H.). There are plenty of us around. It just doesn’t feel like that when I’m out driving. I’m fairly outspoken about my loathing of car horns. You see, for as long as I can remember, I’d had this intense aversion to getting shot!
So, as per usual when putting together a column, I’ve done extensive research on the subject, interviewing people who drive for a living. I first spoke with Tony, a professional and dedicated taxi driver with an impeccable driving record. He granted me the interview but preferred that I call him Knuckles, the name given to him by, um, fellow residents while he was being detained for 3 1/2 years by the state. I started out by asking him how many times he blows his horn on an average workday. He told me he loses track after about a hundred or so. I told him that horns seem to be so prevalent and constant that it seems like drivers are actually using their horns as a communication method. He said that was definitely true and gave me a couple of examples. You’ll see this a lot in smaller communities where people tend to know each other more often.
3 long honks + 2 short horn stabs = Hello, how are you doing?
4 short horn stabs + long 3-second honk = I’ll call you later
2 long horn honks + 6 short horn stabs = I’m sorry. I just ran over your dog.
My research also took me to the home of Mabel ‘Pedal to the metal’ Parker. The employees from the traffic court suggested I speak with her as she’s on a first-name basis with everyone there. She’s had the same silver Ford Fairlane since she almost graduated high school in 1960. The odometer gave out sometime during the Reagan administration but she makes sure the horn still works. Mabel admits to being what they call a constant honker (CH), although she does say the only time she really lays on the horn is when there’s somebody in front of her. I asked her what message she was trying to send by constantly laying on the horn and she said, “People seem to put on their ‘stupid hats’ when they get behind the wheel.” For the record, Mabel has never had an accident but has been stopped numerous times for noise pollution. As our conversation was ending, she lit up another Chesterfield, shooed her cat out the front door, and with that well-known raspy voice told me that without her laying on the horn all the time, how are other drivers supposed to know they’re dumb? Good point, Mabel.
So, what have I learned from my research? I learned that drivers use their horns for a variety of reasons. Some use it as a way of acknowledging friends or acquaintances while others honk in fear for their lives as they inch closer and closer to getting impaled by a mass of sheet metal…and then there’s Mabel, who spells it out very clearly in just one sentence: “Lord help ya if you slow me down on my way to Bingo!”