With a new year upon us, it’s good to remember that we will be welcoming some northern transplants that have absolutely no idea what it’s like to live in the south. This will take patience on your part, perhaps sprinkled with a dash of sympathy.
The first thing you will notice about our new transplants from the northeast is that they like to use their car horn. For southerners reading this column, that is a thing located in the center of your steering wheel that makes noise when you push it. It might be a good idea to practice in case you drive up north in the future. The idea in the northeast is to push this button as fast as possible – and as many times as possible – when the traffic light turns green. It’s even appropriate in New Jersey to do this when following a funeral procession. They treat green lights like drag strips and your worst nightmare is getting behind a Toyota Prius driven by Grandma at a green light.
Up north, the horn is a nice way of expressing your disgust without the bother of leaving your nice warm car. Sort of like mailing a nasty “thank you” letter.
“Thanks so much for taking so much time last Tuesday after the light turned green at the Harris Teeter intersection. I had nothing better to do than watch your car sit there until I almost ran out of gas. Glad you finally did begin moving at 2:00am after a brief eight hour delay. By the way, I was the guy behind you blowing his horn for eight straight hours. Do you know where they sell horns around here?” This letter reflects another northeast trait: sarcasm.
Since northerners use their horn at every single light, they need to replace them every 3,000 miles when getting oil changes. Up north, you can buy car horns at the grocery store, fabric centers and most garden shops. For those southerners traveling up north, get ready to be beeped at every single traffic light regardless of how fast you hit the gas. Manners tend to take a back seat in certain states. So if you want to fit into the northeast lifestyle, lean on your horn – again, located in the center of your steering wheel. You’ll get thumbs up from the other drivers and you will be officially in the “horn” club. I’ll explain how to not use your manners in another column.
Drivers in the south typically wait up to three days before showing any displeasure when someone does not move on the green light. Some southern men bring razors and light snacks in the car just in case. Someone died last year at a green light in Alabama and it took the entire weekend until they figured it out, and that was only because he ran out of gas.
When a northerner does use their horn in the south, cars jam on brakes, babies scream, police are called to the scene and a general sense of panic arises. So to get around this problem, the northerners install bells on their bicycles, which they ring like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. It’s not the same as the horn, but it makes them feel at home. Beep Beep!