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Honkgate

I don’t have many pet peeves. But unnecessary honking really gets my goad. There are reasons cars were given horns. Someone is backing into you – you honk. Someone is veering into your lane – you honk. Someone is not moving fast enough at a green light – well…. let’s talk about that.

I was stopped at a red light the other day with my 5-year-old daughter in the backseat. We were headed to her ballet class. Next thing I know, the driver behind me is laying on his horn. This was not a gentle tap. This was a full-on honk! I was so startled I jumped in my seat.

The light had *just* turned green. In fact, my brain hadn’t even had time to tell my foot to get off the brake, before this crotchety man decided I needed to get moving. I have no doubt his hand was on his horn ready to honk once he saw the light turn.

Now — there are two extremes to handling a situation like this. You can do the adult thing and move on or you can go all road rage on the guy. I’m embarrased to say, I reacted somewhere in between. I started to feel the anger move up my gut and into my throat. And as if he could hear me, I screamed at the man. Then, threw my hands up and just sat there with my foot on the brake. Real mature, I know.

In my fit of anger, I had forgotten my daughter was in the back seat. And it wasn’t until she said, “Mommy, what’s wrong?” — that I realized how stupid I was being. What was I thinking? Granted, the only weapon this man looked like he was carrying was a cane, but that’s not the point.

The way we react to a difficult situation can be the difference between it ending well and ending very badly. After leaving my foot on the brake for an extra 5 seconds (I really let him have it!), I continued on to my daughter’s ballet class. And he to his early bird special.

FHP campaigns are designed to remind us all to be responsible. I learned my lesson that day. I wonder if he learned his.

Florida Highway Patrol has a campaign for everything these days. There’s “Click it or Ticket” to encourage drivers to wear their seat belts. “Operation Safe Ride” targets aggressive drivers and “Over the Limit. Under Arrest” for drunk driving . But I would like to propose a new campaign for those drivers who think their horn is an extension of their mouth — “Think before you Beep”.