COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Honk if you think I’m overreacting

What’s gotten into us lately? When did we lose our bliss?
I remember a time when transplants from eastern cities frequently commented on the fact that drivers around here didn’t honk.
There was rarely a need. Locals, for the most part, were calm, courteous drivers who paid attention, took turns, and had respect for the other guy.
But somewhere along the line, all that has changed. Our roads are filling up with impatient drivers, and if they don’t have the nerve to run you down, they’ll honk at you.
Parking lots are the worst. People honk if I pause to let a car back out of a parking place, or if I stop while a distracted mother and her toddlers wander across the road in front of me. What am I supposed to do? Suddenly levitate and get out of their way so they can run over the mother and her kids?
Now, I’m no timid driver. I’ve been zipping down Southern California freeways my entire life, and I don’t drive some underpowered old clunker that spews black smoke and can’t get out of its own way. My fuel-efficient V-6 has more than 300 horsepower under the hood, and I know how to use it.
But even that is not enough to satisfy some of my fellow travelers.
One morning this week, I pulled into the Leucadia Post Office parking lot and drove around to the mailbox at the side of the building to mail a letter. A few envelopes before mine had gotten jammed in the slot, so my envelope wouldn’t go in. I couldn’t reach the box well enough to untangle the mess, so I stepped out of my car to clear the letter jam.
Just as I was getting out of the car, another vehicle pulled up behind me, and the driver immediately honked. I looked back and saw by her facial expression and body language that she was fully exasperated by the fact that I was getting out of the car and holding her up.
I pushed the jammed letters down the slot, put my envelope in and drove forward. I continued around the building to the parking lot exit, where I waited for oncoming traffic to pass before pulling out onto Highway 101.
It was typically calm, mid-morning traffic, so I only had to wait, oh, say 15 seconds for three cars to pass before there was a clear spot. During those few seconds, the honker pulled up behind me. And yes, she honked again. This time she was aggravated because I wouldn’t pull out in front of oncoming traffic.
According to my “California Driver Handbook,” those cars on 101 had the right of way, and I was obligated to wait until they passed. Maybe she has a different book. Or maybe when she pulls out in front of oncoming cars, they screech to a stop. I dunno.
When I did turn onto 101, she followed quickly behind me, jumped into the left lane, pulled up next to me, held up two shaking fingers, and yelled, “Twice! I had to honk at you twice!”
She didn’t look any more important than me. She didn’t look as if she were on her way to a fire. She didn’t act as if she were severely injured and trying to get to the emergency room before she bled out.
Wherever she was going, it couldn’t have been too much of an emergency. She had time to stop and mail a letter, for heaven’s sake.
So, I guess the answer is a simple one: She must be the most important person on Earth.
Tiffany Porter has been a Leucadia resident since 1980, with a few years
off for good behavior.

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  1. Elle Cloud says:

    Great column. It’s the east coast transplants doing the honking.

  2. myhalfoutofthemiddle says:

    HONK!

    Tell the truth.

    After the first honk, I would bet money that, just for spite, you lingered just a bit waiting for one more car to go by. All the while peeking in the rear-view mirror hoping for the reaction you got.

    Sounds to me like rude carried the day. Topped by a healthy dose of 300 horsepower smug.

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