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Posted by on Jan 21, 2010 in General | 7 comments

Why Honking Horns Really Bother Me

Has nothing to do with horns.

My folks forced me to move here in 1967 from New York State.

I was 11 and I didn’t like it one bit. Too hot, too humid, people talked funny, weird food like grits, “won’t you come to our church”, concrete “pill box” houses. Long list of complaints.

I was constantly comparing things to how they did things “Up North.” I was corrected by a teacher not to refer to New York City as “The City” since there were other cities even though it was (at the time) the largest in the USA. I was corrected by a different teacher not to say “yes”, when answering a question, but to say “yes, ma’am.”

Boy, was I grumpy about all this. Did I mention how hot and humid it is around here?  Well it is.

But one thing I did not miss (and there were some other things, too) was the use of the car horn. “Up North” horn use was common.

If you went to pick someone up at their house, did you p-a-h-k the c-a-h and go up to the door and ring the doorbell? You did not — you pulled the car to the curb and you laid on the horn until the person in question came out. Never mind about annoying the neighbors. Screw them, you were important.

Stuck in a traffic jam? Lay on the horn!  Someone doesn’t go when the light turns green? Lay on the horn! In fact, lay on the horn before the light turns green, then they will know you mean business! That’s the way it was in New York.

I didn’t think that was right even when I was up north. Horns were meant to be used sparingly and so it was in Orlando. In fact, I think that people are a little too easy on the horn around here. Sometimes the horn is necessary. I know that I have to think about three times to even find the horn when I need it.

After a few years I got used to things they way they were around here.

So that is why I just about jump out of my skin when somebody comes up behind me while I’m riding my bike and honks their horn.

Given the tradition of Orlando, and its civil driving, I would think that this would be a great place for a civility initiative to succeed. The old-timers need to be reminded and to gently explain to the new-comers how things are, the way it was explained to me.

7 Comments

  1. What Andy said in this comment is my sentiment exactly.

    I find riding peaceful and enjoyable. Even in traffic. Even on a big road, I am typically in a mindful, but relaxed, state. So a horn ripping through my solitude is most unwelcome. Especially since it is backed by the anger and “get off my road” attitude and typically delivered by someone who could easily change lanes (or often didn’t even have to change lanes because they were already in the left lane).

    I’ve only lived here since the mid eighties, but I’ve seen a sharp decrease in civility since then. I hope you’re right about the civility initiative finding fertile ground here.

  2. Eric – Honking doesn’t bother me too much. Except when you get a guy who has one of those really loud train horns on his supersize pick-em-up.

    Yeah Keri – What’s up with people who honk when they’re in a totally different lane? Sheesh!

    And while we’re at it….I get yelled at by dogs as they stick their head out the window of the car and bark as they pass by.

  3. Interesting perspective, Eric.

    I know in smaller towns, you see civility practiced much more. I can’t count the number of times someone waves you on past them at stop signs, or yields, etc etc. Why is that? Why is it that as population increases, civility decreases?

    • anonymity

    • People like to talk about how small Orlando was before Disney and in some ways they are right because it had an economy grounded in more than “growth”. But I also point out that Orlando had a population of just about 100,000 in 1970 (99,9973) and that, in my mind is not “small.”

      I also point out that Orlando incorporated vast areas of acreage after 1970 which increased it’s population so that comparing numbers would be misleading.

      Even though Orlando is very uncivil to cyclists and even worse to pedestrians, I think that it is more civil than other places I have driven.

      I think it is a social thing. People that drive in NYC or Boston do not assume that they are in a higher social strata than the people that are walking because everybody has to walk, even if it is from the garage to the office building where they work.

      Yet, they love to lay on the horn at every opportunity.

  4. One thing to note: if you are outside a car when the horn honks, it is awfully loud.

    I bet most obnoxious honkers have never heard a horn from grille-level.

    Most recently, I was fixing my light on the sidewalk when some guy honked his horn from 2 feet away. He wanted to get the attention of his son who was wandering about. He was too lazy to get out of the car or even open the window.

    I almost went up to him and yelled full volume, “This is what your horn sounds like!”.

  5. This is where an Airzounds helps… it “returns the favor.”