Home > Export, Making Disability Visible > Some Reasons Not To Honk Your Horn At People In Parking Lots

Some Reasons Not To Honk Your Horn At People In Parking Lots

Go around the other way, idiot

Two weeks ago I was home visiting Z-mom and I took her to one of her favorite restaurants for lunch.  All the handicapped parking spaces were full when we got there so I stopped near the door, got out the transport chair, helped her into it, took her into the restaurant, scurried back out to park the car, and then rejoined her in the restaurant.  After our meal I had to do this in reverse.  Brought her near the restaurant front doors, then went to get the car. I drove up near the entrance, hung the handicapped parking placard from the rearview mirror, got out of the car, went around to the passenger side, opened the door, and was about to go into the restaurant to get her when some d00dche pulled up in BigMobile he couldn’t get through between my car and the adjoining row of parked cars.  If he had backed up ten feet, he could have gone around the other side of the row of parked cars, but instead he chose to honk his horn several times and yell out the side of his car window, “Move your car, lady!”  It was about 150 degrees in the shade that day and 99.9% humidity and I was worn to a nub.  We’d had a horrible time at mom’s morning doctor appointment, and had to hurry through lunch because we had an afternoon doctor appointment as well.  I yelled back, “I’m picking up someone in a wheelchair, dude.  Move your own damn car.”  And went in to get mom.  By the time I came back out with her, he was parked and walking up to the restaurant.  In dulcet tones, he apologized and said how sorry he was, he hadn’t known, he thought I was parking there to get takeout, bla bla bla.  I looked at him and said, “I don’t park in the middle of the street for fun.”

But you know? Even if I had been parked there to get takeout (with my handicap parking placard dangling from my rearview mirror) – what’s the need to honk and yell?  Save your blood pressure, back up and go the other way.  Or wait 6.3 microseconds to see if you can figure out wtf is going on.  Douchenozzle.

Don’t drive up my ass

Yesterday I was out running errands.  I’d woken up with a headache, but I do most days now that I am at the end of a botox cycle, so I tried to shrug it off – had to get some things done.  Bad call.  Out running around doing stuff, near the end of the errand list, I suddenly got…this feeling. Oh no.  I know that feeling. Just…wrong. As if my blood pressure and blood sugar both simultaneously plummeted.  I felt breathless and lightheaded and intermittently saw spots.  I started to get an odd type of tunnel vision, where I could still see everything, but not really make sense out of things on the periphery.  I felt cognitively confused – all information processing took much, much longer than normal. The bad-enough headache was ready to transform itself into a full-blown, raging migraine.

And I was driving.

Fortunately I was very near the entrance of a large parking area, and I knew that off to one side there was a place I could park and be in the shade.  I pulled carefully off the road into the parking area entrance road, which led uphill, and then, I knew, had parking lots to the left and right.  But I couldn’t see well and wasn’t exactly sure where I would have to make the turn, and then at the last minute I couldn’t remember if I should go left or right, and I was disoriented, so I stopped, briefly, trying desperately to see and figure what I should do.

And then some cranky ass woman in the car behind me honked, and honked, and honked again. This, as you might imagine, was extremely helpful to me in clarifying my cognitive confusion.  I wanted to get out of my car and go back to hers and yell at her, but I was afraid I’d pass out.  I honked back in frustration, and made a wild guess that left was the direction I wanted, which turned out to be correct, and found some shade.

I got something to drink at nearby store and was able to take something that made me feel better enough to drive the rest of the way home.  Nobody else  honked at me.  And then I was sick as hell with the worst migraine in weeks for the rest of day and evening.

Moral of these stories

Maybe people are doing stupid things in parking lots for stupid reasons.  Or maybe not.  Maybe there’s a hidden disability involved.  In any case, it’s not clear to me that the honking does anything more than vent the honker’s spleen.  I don’t know if that lowers or raises the honker’s blood pressure.

Honking to warn people of impending danger is good.  Honking to teach people a lesson about how you believe they ought to behave is silly – do you really think they “learn”? – and adds to noise pollution.  (I’m quite sure that lady in the car behind me learned nothing from my honking back at her.) Plus, it aggravates my goddamn migraine.  So don’t do it if you can help it.  Thanks.

This post could also be related to Juniorprof’s twitter campaign #painresearchmatters.

  1. Judith
    July 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm | #1

    As far as I’m concerned, actually honking the horn should be saved for “holycraplookout!” situations.

    I have been known to yell “honk!” at people.

  2. July 28, 2010 at 12:16 am | #2

    I will try to be more considerate about that sort of thing. Not that I am big on being an asshole with a horn, but it has been known to happen. Ironically, I tend to get most frustrated, when I am getting a migraine and just want to get done and get home. If I let them get bad enough, I get too damned muddled and concerned about my driving. But considering it rationally, it does nothing to get me home faster and may make things take longer.

    So sorry. While I am rather certain that I have never done it to you, I have to others. I make no bones about being an asshole, but that is certainly not the sort of asshole I want to be.

  3. July 28, 2010 at 12:41 am | #3

    I don’t use my horn unless someone’s about to hit me. I do flip people off more than strictly necessary though, which I suppose makes me another kind of asshole, which I am trying not to be, at least in front of my lovely offspring. Sigh.

    Glad you got safely home Zuska.

  4. becca
    July 28, 2010 at 7:47 am | #4

    Driving is a most unnatural task that naturally raises blood pressure. Driving in this heat is stupidmaking.
    I’m glad the first guy at least realized his jerkiness- I suspect he’ll think twice next time.

    Judith- that is funny. I believe I shall start yelling “honk!” and see if that helps.

  5. Rebecca
    July 28, 2010 at 8:24 am | #5

    That is a thoughtful blog. I acknowledge that my most common reason for honking is, “You almost caused us to crash into each other, asshole!” And thus it does not have any effect other than venting my annoyance.

  6. July 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm | #6

    A serious problem is horn manufacture, I think. Originally the horn was supposed to be for exactly such situations as this; a means to attract attention in addition to more serious circumstances relating to imminent accident and/or death. But they all sound too loud and urgent, too angry. They need a second kind of polite horn of the “Excuse me there, sorry to be rude, but I was wondering if I might direct your attention to x, y,z issue for just a moment” sort.

    • attie
      August 14, 2010 at 8:47 am | #7

      DSKS :
      They need a second kind of polite horn of the “Excuse me there, sorry to be rude, but I was wondering if I might direct your attention to x, y,z issue for just a moment” sort.

      Where I live, the public transport buses have that. There the full “EEEK WATCH OUT!” horn, and then there’s the “excuse me, but you are walking on my lane” tingle. It sounds somewhat like the bells you used to have on bikes when I was a kid. Really useful because the city center layout guarantees that you need to shoo someone off the road every 10 meters, and it doesn’t really help to make the person jump 10 feet in the air and wait while they calm their racing heart enough.

  7. July 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm | #8

    My horn is reserved for 2 circumstances: 1) OMG!LOOKOUT!YOU’REGOINGTOHITME!!! and 2) “Pardon me for interrupting your texting while driving but the light has changed and I would like to direct your attention to it.” I think DSKS has a point. The latter could do with a second, more polite tone. Incidentally, a friend just bought a hybrid car with a horn tone that he calls “apologetic”. He is loathe to use it even when about to be steamrolled by an SUV because he thinks it might provoke the SUVs into becoming more aggressive, as cats do when the mouse begins to squeak.

    Glad you got home safe, and hopefully at least the guy at the restaurant will be more considerate in the future.

  8. July 29, 2010 at 10:46 am | #9

    I hope it wasn’t me honking at you. I tend to get very impatient when driving, especially when it’s hot and I’m tired and my legs are cramping up as they are wont to do lately. If it was, I’m sorry. And thank you for posting this as it will definitely cause me to be more patient on the road in the future.

  9. Kea
    August 3, 2010 at 12:14 pm | #10

    This blog post has really stuck with me over the last few days. I’m taking it to heart, and hope others will, too. I know when I’m doing something out of the ordinary while driving (spacing out, whatever), it’s usually because something’s bothering me or I’m not feeling well. I’d like to get off the road and out of the way, too & will do, with a little help from my friends (aka fellow humans in cars).

  10. Quercki
    August 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm | #11

    Isn’t the correct response to gratuitous horn use, “Horn works! Try your lights?”

  11. Kaz
    August 18, 2010 at 2:24 am | #12

    I’m not a driver, but I’ve found that this general phenomenon is one of the main things I’ve needed to rethink upon getting into disability rights: that I should stop judging people for doing something I think is ridiculous or silly or annoying when it doesn’t really impact me, because they might be disabled and have good reason to do that. Because for almost any situation where I used to go all mentally contemptuous or annoyed, whether it’s people driving five hundred metres instead of walking or getting tons of junk food or stopping in the middle of the street or whatever, I can think of a disability where that sort of behaviour is necessary. And for the ones I can’t, I might just not be aware of the disability in question so it’s best to err on the safe side.

    It was hard to change my patterns of thought so completely, but I think it’s definitely made me a better person and a lot nicer to be around, and less likely to randomly honk at people having migraines to boot.

    (On another note, I have some hearing issues – probably some form of auditory processing disorder with hypersensitivity – and autistic issues when it comes to shock and sudden noises. Words cannot describe how much I dislike honking cars; they make me jump half out of my skin and could contribute to sending me into a meltdown if I were doing badly enough already.)

  12. October 3, 2010 at 3:21 am | #13

    I like that, “Pardon me for interrupting your texting while driving but the light has changed and I would like to direct your attention to it.” (Ambivalent academic). Very Canadian, actually.

    I rarely use the horn, so much so that I forget it when it would definitely be appropriate. When I do honk, it’s just a quick tap. And I get really annoyed with ijjits who lean on the horn because you’re taking up two nano-seconds of their precious time. I often remember what my son did once; he stopped the car dead, got out and walked back to the offender, tapped on the window, and asked the driver, ever so politely, “Excuse me, did you want something?”

    Remembering that makes me grin, and I slow down, flash a happy smile at the honker, and watch him (it’s usually a him) turn purple.

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