I grew up in a small town and went to college at a University in rural Northern New York, minutes south of the border. Upon graduating I was kind of lost as to what I was going to do, so I quickly procured a job teaching English in South Korea. The next 5-6 years of my life were spent in cities, some small, some big, some foreign. It was in these cities that I learned of the car horn.
Yes, my cars growing up had horns, but they were used to let the deer know you were coming. Or to harass the cows. If you can picture four 16/17 year olds loaded into a lime green 2-door Suzuki Samurai (essentially a Geo Metro), barreling down country roads with heads hanging out of windows shouting and honking at cows, you can picture my middle teenage years.
I had always known horns were used to express ire at other drivers, but in Korea I first saw the horn being used by taxi drivers to let cars at intersections know they needed to get the hell out of the way. It worked magnificently. In New York I lived at a pretty busy intersection in Brooklyn: there were five roads intersecting, three of them major, an on ramp to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and an off ramp, and entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Needless to say there was a lot of honking. It was in Brooklyn that I started running again; not being one for waiting, if I could nip across the street mid-run and not have to wait for an idiot lite, I would. Again, more honking. Brooklyn being what it is, more often than not, instead of heeding the honking, it was met with a middle finger and a big old “f*ck you, sh*t bird.”
Moving to Vermont and running at night, I get my fair share of honks, but for some reason, they don’t have the same harsh edge they had in Brooklyn. Instead of flipping cars the bird for breaking my beautiful silence, I just toss them a wave and a smile. Maybe I’m growing up; maybe I’m worried about cursing at my boss; maybe big cities just suck. Either way, I can’t say I miss cussing at strangers.