I have this fantasy that keeps me sane when the jarring sound of angry horns threatens my usually peaceful state of mind.
To start, I understand that car horns can serve a purpose. Sometimes they warn you of impending danger! That can be a useful thing. Sometimes they’re a way of saying a cheery hello to a neighbour or friend. That can be a pleasant thing.
But sometimes (most times, it seems) they’re used as a way of symbolically screaming a litany of curses at someone by whom the honker feels mortally wronged. This is often part of a delightful bundle including nasty facial expressions, frantic gesticulating, possible yelling by the honker and, occasionally, physical violence.
And I have to confess, I too have periodically succumbed to the temptation to let out my frustration through my horn. I know it doesn’t serve a practical purpose beyond telling the other person that I dislike what they’ve done, yet I do it anyway.
It’s this very use of the horn that my fantasy seeks to eliminate. Who am I to decide that what another driver or pedestrian has done is wrong and needs punishment (a la horn blowing)? Sure, I know the rules of the road, but as you can see from all the honking (as well as the many threads here where people argue over driving laws) not everyone seems to agree on these rules.
Which is where my fantasy comes in. See, in my dreams, there are these police officers whose sole duty is to scold those who angrily honk when in fact, the other driver has done nothing wrong.
For example, this very morning, I saw a car turning left onto a three lane road on an advanced green, while another car simultaneously turned right onto the same road. Both cars should have turned into their own lanes and everything would have been fine, but the car turning left was attempting to turn directly into the far right lane, and was annoyed that the right turning car was occupying his desired spot. So the driver honked bitterly for a really long time. Now, I’m pretty sure the right turning driver had done nothing wrong, and I am equally certain that the left turning driver fumed his whole way to work about what a jerk the right turning guy had been. How sad and awful, really! BUT, in my dream world, enter Officer Politeness, who would pull Mr Left Turn over and gently explain to him that, in fact, his anger was unjustified. Perhaps he would record his name, and after a few offences there could be a re-education on basic driving skills.
And not necessarily just drivers, either. There was a situation back during the big blackout that really stuck with me. All the traffic lights were out, and the roads were an absolute mess, of course. Newscasters on the radio were repeatedly advising drivers to treat traffic lights like a 4 way stop, which most drivers knew anyway. Most were doing this, and I saw one such car approach one such intersection and stop, wait his turn, then proceed. Another car had been attempting to go directly through without stopping at all, and the passenger in the car that hadn’t planned on stopping was livid at the other car. She screamed and swore and shook her fists out the window, and I really would have loved for Officer Politeness to have had a chat with her. I mean, what was she thinking? The other car hadn’t cut them off in any way, but had merely gone out of what she perceived to be their turn. I wonder how many other intersections had driven her to scream and swear and shake her fists that day. And she too probably fumed about all these other stupid drivers long after it happened. Maybe she would have felt better if someone had told her that the other cars were not doing anything wrong?
I don’t mean I want more cops giving out tickets or fines or anything. I just want these honkers to be told by someone in a position of authority about such matters that their self righteous fury is unfounded.
I know that in reality, this would do nothing more than infuriate people even further, making road rage even worse, and culminating in the end of civilization as we know it. But in my fantasy, it would make people realize that they aren’t always as right as they think they are, and the next time someone made them mad, they would stop and think, “I don’t think that was something that driver should have done. But I’ve been wrong before, so rather than honk and yell and swear at him, I’ll look up the proper procedure to see who was in the right!”
And everyone would live happily ever after.