When a teen gets a driver’s license, they have to (in most states) take a driving course prior to taking the driving test.
This is a good idea, even if it can certainly be debated that letting teens drive is not.
That said, there are a few things that aren’t standard in driver training course, and I think it’s time they added some.
Some of the no-brainer additions: changing a flat tire, jump starting a battery, and how to properly wave thank you when someone lets you in traffic. But a recent event brought one more to me recently: proper honk protocol.
I was at a stop light the other day, and I will admit I was daydreaming a smidge. The light turned green, and I didn’t notice. The car in front of me had maybe gotten two car lengths ahead, so it’s not like I’d been sitting there for hours.
Now, the courteous thing to do – as the gentleman behind me would have learned in driving school had this been taught – would be to give two or three quick little beeps. Just a, “Hey, buddy, green light.”
Instead, he just laid on his horn. Even when I began to go, he continued with the horn. He also added some aggressive hand gestures, because clearly I had not gone immediately as a direct attempt to inconvenience him.
I considered slowing down as I approached the green light and hoping to wait for a yellow, but then I realized that was the dark, little vindictive corner of my brain that I have to hush on occasion.
I got through the light, as did the driver behind me.
But he was still mad. Either that or there was a bee in his car and he was trying to shoo it. And he was tailgating me. Or he was really interested in reading my license plate. Pretty sure it’s the prior on both accounts.
My son was in the car with me and glanced in the side mirror. “Dad, he’s mad.”
“I know, son. And when we get to a stopping place we are going to get out and fight him. Both of us.”
My son stared at me. “Ok, you’re joking.”
I find it somewhat disturbing that my 14-year-old thought, if only for a moment, that the best way to combat road rage was for a father-son battle royale.
“Yes, I am,” I assured him.
My son asked me what I would do if he followed us to our destination and said something to me.
I paused for a moment. Good question. I certainly wouldn’t engage angrily, as, although it has never happened to me, I don’t thinking getting beaten up (or worse) in a parking lot would be much fun.
I told my son I would simply say, “Hey, man. Thanks for the heads up on the green light. My bad.” And if he continued? I would add, “Hey, you’re gonna be OK. Have a great day.”
Fortunately, this scenario never had to be explored, as he turned off after a few miles. But a few quick lessons of horn protocol could have helped avoid any of this.
Need a gentle reminder to go? Beep beep beep.
About to merge into the side of my car? BEEEEEP!!!
About to merge into the side of my car while texting? BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!! BEEP!!! BEEP!!!!
(Can we stop for just a second to appreciate about much of a fun word “beep” is? Good. Carry on.)
Granted, even if you taught it, some folks are never going to follow the rules. Maybe this guy is one of those. If you’re reading this and the actions of the guy behind me sound a smidge familiar, just remember that not every bad thing in the world is someone out to get you. Sometimes, other people inconvenience you on accident and without malice. It’s nothing to get your blood pressure up over. You, good friend, are going to be OK.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s break into groups and have a discussion on the extreme severity of folks who don’t return shopping carts.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.