Sunlit Water

August 15, 2006

Honk If You Hate America

Filed under: Urban Living — by teofilo @ 6:13 pm

On the way to the grocery store this afternoon I heard someone honk at the car in front of them for waiting a couple seconds to start going after the light turned green.  It reminded me of something that I’ve been meaning to post about: honking.

Shortly before this past Super Bowl the Washington Post had a front-page feature article about Seattle and how bizarrely nice and polite people were in that magical far-away land.  Among the characteristics the article identified as being typical of Seattle (some of which really did seem unusual) was the fact that no one ever honks, which was presented as an integral part of the unique niceness of the city.  The problem with this reasoning, as anyone who’s ever been outside the Northeast can attest, is that people don’t honk anywhere outside the Northeast.  That is, DC is the outlier here, not Seattle.

Since I come from one of those many honkless areas I hate honking with a passion; I find it obnoxious, rude and generally pointless.  It’s not like banging on your horn is going to make the traffic move any faster.  And yet people in northeastern cities do it all the fucking time.  It’s one of the most irritating aspects of living (and particularly driving) in a city.

I don’t really have a larger point here; I do like living in a city, and this is a very minor drawback.  Still, this is as good a place to rant as any.



  1. I’ve been honked at more than once in southern California for not turning right fast enough because I happened to be looking left for oncoming traffic – while the light was still red – when the light turned green.

    I honked at someone recently for what was essentially stopping at a green light. He was a long way in front of me and slowed down when the light was red. But it was a very short light and turned green immediately – maybe even before he came to a complete stop. He didn’t notice, I eventually caught up with him and had to stop, cars behind me stopped, cars went by in the other lane, and finally, reluctantly, I realized the only way to get his attention was to honk. It’s probably only the second or third time I’ve ever used the horn.

    Comment by eb — August 15, 2006 @ 6:28 pm |Reply

  2. I don’t like honking at all either. There is quite a bit of it in central California, perhaps more per driver than in NYC though I could not begin to support that.

    Comment by The Modesto Kid — August 15, 2006 @ 7:16 pm |Reply

  3. “I think we should only get 3 honks a month on the car horn. Then, someone cuts you off, you press the horn, and nothing happens. You’re like, ‘Crap! I wish I hadn’t seen Ricky on the sidewalk!'”
    –Mitch Hedberg

    I’ve driven in most of the major cities east of the Mississippi, and I submit that Bostonians are the honkiest, rudest, and lousiest bunch of drivers I’ve ever encountered.

    Comment by Stanley — August 15, 2006 @ 7:22 pm |Reply

  4. I have no problem with honking of the type eb describes, when it really is the only way to get someone’s attention; I think that’s what it’s for. But that’s a pretty rare situation. Usually people just honk because they’re pissed off.

    I tend to assume that people who honk in areas outside the Northeast are transplanted northeasterners. This may not be accurate.

    Comment by teofilo — August 15, 2006 @ 8:23 pm |Reply

  5. I never know who’s honking or why, but I usually assume it’s for me.

    I honk at jerks who don’t go on green because they’re holding up not just their own line, but would-be left-turners. They’re leaders! Also, they need to get out of my fucking way.

    Disclosure: I have lived in (mostly) MD and VA for 21 years, but don’t remember being the passenger of a honking driver. Hey, that sounds like a great pejorative!

    Comment by ~Macarena~ — August 16, 2006 @ 9:12 pm |Reply

  6. Ten honks per car, I say. That way you wold only use them either in an emergency or when you see a pretty girl at the beach. But enough honking at 7 am in the streets of Baltimore. Enough!

    Comment by Hateahonk — March 14, 2008 @ 7:18 am |Reply

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