Snow: At light change, don’t honk if you love Jesus

May 25, 2013 

Coming home from the beach on Interstate 40, I wondered if perhaps we had missed a turn and ended up on the Indianapolis Speedway.

We were doing the posted 70 mph with a bump-up to a siren-free 72 or 73 occasionally. Nevertheless, it seemed as if were almost sitting still.

The only people we passed were one or two farmers tooling along at 55 or 60, gazing out over the vast tableland of unplowed fields.

“And the legislature plans to raise the speed limit to 75 so the hot-rodders can do 85,” I said to my wife.

We are indeed an impatient people. Yet after writing recently about a driver who blasted his horn because I didn’t get out of his way at a Glenwood Avenue light change, a reader took me to task. She wrote that I, not the honker, was the problem.

“Perhaps I was the one who honked when the light changed and you did not respond,” Hannah wrote.

“If so, it was not that I was impatient. It was to remind you that when you are behind the wheel of a car, I expect your focus to be on your driving and on the conditions around you.

“Perhaps you were engrossed in a meaningful conversation, enjoying beautiful music, or daydreaming about your grandchildren. But you weren’t focused on what you agreed to focus on when you got behind the wheel.”

Not guilty on all counts, Hannah. Let’s not assume too much.

I was alone and alert to the light change because I, too, am Type A, and guilty of impatience.

I don’t dilly-dally at traffic lights. Nor do I text or tweet on my cell. Rarely listen to the radio. And I don’t just sit there contemplating my navel.

I allow drivers ahead of me five to 10 seconds to move before gently tapping my horn. If they are stargazing or texting or yakking, I may be less patient.

I do not assume, as some do, that if the driver ahead of me has a few streaks of gray hair, he or she is senile and shouldn’t be on the highway anyway.

It may be that he or she has a better driving record than you or I.

I recall an anecdote related by my late and beloved mother-in-law.

She had pulled into the neighborhood service station to gas up. A young woman at the pump in front of her had just finishing filling her tank.

After going inside to pay her bill, she hurried back to her car, slid under the wheel and roared off, dragging parts of the gas tank behind her.

“If I had done that,” Kitty Brown said, “the good old boys hanging out at the station would have guffawed their heads off and one would surely would have said, ‘That little old lady has no business driving a car.’ ”

As far I know, there’s no legal waiting time before honking at traffic lights.

Joyce Wolfe of Wilson, however, writes that she has read somewhere that scientists have now measured and named the smallest amount of time in existence. It’s called the “honkasecond.”

“A honkasecond is the amount of time between a stoplight turning green and the honking of a driver’s horn from behind.”

From time to time we’ve all seen the “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper stickers.

As I understand Jesus’ personality, he considered patience an important virtue. So perhaps we can all practice patience, even at stoplights.

In other words, don’t honk if you love Jesus when the car in front of you doesn’t take off as fast as a jet leaving the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

Widows and windows

Reader Max Adams responded to the item about the long-ago typographical error in The N&O that the late Gov. Luther Hodges suffered a hernia while lifting a “widow” at the Governor’s Mansion.

“How do you know it was a typo?” he asked.

I know because Gov. Hodges was too busy founding the Research Triangle to be messing around with widows.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or

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