Honk You

2013-08-19T15:14:00Z Honk YouRick Kaempfer nwitimes.com
August 19, 2013 3:14 pm  • 

I’ve never been a honker. I don’t like being honked at, so I almost never honk the horn. In my mind, there are only two legitimate reasons to do so.

#1: You’re about to crash into someone.

#2: Someone in front of you is not paying attention after the light has turned green.

In the first case a loud HONK is not only reasonable, it’s necessary. In the second case, a loud honk is not. A simple tapping of the horn is enough to wake up the person who isn’t paying attention. After all, a second or two of inattention at a red light is not exactly a cardinal sin. We’ve all done it.

I only mention this because I’m in the process of teaching my oldest son Tommy to drive. I’ve always known deep down that my Golden Rule approach to horn-honking is not exactly universally accepted, but it wasn’t until I began to teach someone the actual rules of the road that I noticed just how unbelievably rude people can be.

Tommy has been honked at, and I mean HONKED at for doing the following things behind the wheel…

*Making a complete stop at a stop sign, and looking both ways for oncoming traffic

*Pausing at a yield sign to look for oncoming traffic

*Going the speed limit

*Cautiously braking as he turns

*Waiting for the light to turn green (that’s right, green—he was in a left turn lane that required a green turn arrow)

Each time it happened, his reaction was the same.

“What did I do wrong, Dad?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I told him, “You did nothing wrong.”

I’m a man with a pretty long fuse. I have a better than average amount of patience, and I think it’s safe to say that I don’t anger quickly or easily. But these honkers are really starting to tick me off. When you honk in a situation like that, it’s like poking your finger in somebody’s chest. It’s like getting in someone’s face and SCREAMING at them. And for what? For following the actual rules?

Would you do that if you didn’t have a thousand pound vehicle to back you up? Do you do that in a grocery store?


“I know, and I have ten items.”


You’re being a jerk, plain and simple. There are other words for it, but they aren’t really appropriate for a family publication like this.

Of course, I say them all in my head when you needlessly lay on the horn. I say them all and many more. I suggest activities for you that I know are physically impossible. I string together colorful adjectives to create phrases that are so fiery they could melt a block of ice, but it’s still not as rude as what you’re saying to my teenage son with that nasty HONKING.

And I don’t say any of them out loud when my son is driving, because I’m trying to keep him calm. I figure he’s under enough stress learning to drive without his dad unleashing a trail of expletives to the *@*#&Q# honking the horn behind him.

But I will say this. If I ever got in a situation where I COULD say exactly what I was thinking to a person who had honked at my son for following the rules, I could do it in two words.


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