23 Oct 2008

Bad Assumptions, Part 2: "HONK HONK"

Posted by paulandrew

I had an unpleasant driving experience the other day it got me thinking about my own impatience when driving.

I’m waiting in line at a busy intersection with 4 way stop signs, and am behind several cars. The traffic is moving along but not particularly fast. The car in front of me is signaling to turn left. When he finally gets to the front of the line, he is unable to advance, though, because there are pedestrians crossing the crosswalk of the street that he’s turning into.

So naturally he waits for them to cross. And I see that that’s what he’s waiting so I wait patiently too. That’s when things go awry. The car behind me starts honking, as if there were no good reason for us to be waiting.

I wonder what’s going through his mind? Is he thinking that somebody just isn’t paying attention? That we are less concerned about moving forward than he is? That we just enjoy sitting at a stop sign, and are doing this to antagonize him? What is it?

In any case, I just didn’t like the use of the horn. It put me on edge, and in this case had no good application at all. I say if you’re frustrated in your car, bang on your steering wheel, shout to yourself, but please don’t use your horn just to say “screw you.” It has a negative impact on other people.

This experience got me thinking about the times when I had seen cars inexplicably stopped and gotten frustrated by this. In almost every case, within a few seconds I saw the good reason that people were stopped, and calmed right down. I initially made bad assumptions that got me upset.

Now my impulse, when I see something that doesn’t make sense is to wonder “what’s going on?”

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