Pam Rainey: Save your horn for special occasions

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Denton is not the small town I moved to in the early 1970s.

Our little haven has grown — despite varying opinions regarding how that growth should take place. New industry such as Peterbilt Motors came onto the scene in 1980. I was blessed to be one of the first employees there.

I mentioned mixed emotion regarding growth. It’s like this: I loved my little Denton. I knew almost everyone in town then. Life was simple.

Here comes the “however.” It’s been rewarding to see larger enrollments at our universities, housing growth, and new schools popping up to educate our young and expanding population.

Here’s the rub: noise level. New industry brings new growth and new thoroughfares.

It’s not the noise of the school buses taking children to and from school that bothers me, nor the university students driving, walking or bicycling to classes. I’m really not bothered by the growing number of cars on the interstate. My life and schedule adjust easily to accommodate high traffic volume times on the highway.

What really bugs me is the noise of vehicle horns. I don’t blame horn rudeness on industry or population growth, though. In fact, I don’t know from where this offensive habit has come. One would think Denton is now New York City. Don’t get me wrong, I love New York — I just don’t want to live there.

Being a Southern girl, I simply wanted to know about honking etiquette. I searched the Internet. Bingo — I found it. It is a blog posting called “Honking Etiquette” (imagine that) from 2009 by a Canadian blogger. (Find it online at http://bit.ly/1ovC43z.) I found both comical and practical information about the rules for using that delicate little feature on our vehicles. A laugh or two never hurts the disposition when you are irritated about an issue.

I’m open to “friendly honking,” in a rural area. For years, motorists have honked upon entering and leaving a farm. It was a courtesy to let the landowner know someone was visiting. I often hear my niece Paige Rainey Lokey, married now and expecting her first child, honk three times when she leaves her parents’ farm. Pretty sure it means “I love you.” That, to me, is the friendly honk.

It’s those unexpected and unfriendly honks in the city I find rude and crude. For example, I’ve been the recipient of the “rude honk” when I’m going the speed limit but the person behind me wants to speed. The driver, honking all the way, passes me as though I were sitting on blocks. Some pass on the left. Dangerous drivers pass on the right of my vehicle.

Then there is the overly anxious driver behind me — the driver who expects me to turn right at a red signal light. That is perfectly legal. But when it looks like someone just opened the floodgates, and cars are swarming toward me, I stand my ground and don’t budge. Mr. Impatient might want to get crumbled by oncoming traffic. I do not choose to.

Another instance is when I’m the first driver at the signal light and the light turns from red to green. The drivers behind honk their horns the moment the light turns from red to green. Give me a break! It takes time to check to see if anyone is running the red light and move one’s foot from the brake to the accelerator. Be patient!

Of course there are instances where honking the horn is appreciated. We all know and embrace them. “Necessary honking” never goes out of style.

“Not honking is always a good option, too,” the blog notes. Another tip: “Don’t give the finger unless you have the locks on in your car and are willing to get a window replaced.”

That sort of gesture is what the blog describes beautifully.

“It’s kind of like when a puppy makes a mess in your kitchen,” the blog says. Some people would push the poor puppy’s nose into its mess to remind it not to do that again, “but it just confuses the puppy. Neither puppies nor most drivers are all [that] bright, sorry.”

I say obscene gestures are just asking for more problems. I don’t sing in public but I find my car a perfect place to perform. And, instead of displaying a vulgar gesture to the offending driver, might I suggest you sing a very popular song I’ve learned helps me forgive discourteous drivers: “Let It Go.”

PAM RAINEY is a longtime Denton resident and a real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. She can be reached at pam@realestatedenton.biz or 940-293-3117.


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