HOLLYWOOD—Hey you! Yeah you! I’ve been meaning to give you a piece of my mind. You are the royal jerk, the corrosive voice of impatience who keeps honking even when awash in light traffic. I’ll dawdle just a split nano-second too long before a green light, and there you’ll be: blaring your horn, jarring me from a pleasant inertia. Or I’ll simply take too long to change lanes on Franklin Avenue for your hurried taste, and there you go honking away, releasing harsh vibrations into the midday glare. I’ve got to hand it to you, though, you certainly do get around, pal—West Side, East Side, the Valley, all around Dodgertown. You’re every place I am.

You’re getting worse, too. Your frequency of honking is increasing, and your threshold for what constitutes a honkable offense has lowered dramatically in recent months, leaving the rest of us horn-averse drivers in an absolute tizzy, frayed nerves more frayed. Whatever automotive decorum is being subverted, it is so fleeting. Sometimes I have a sneaking suspicion that you are doing it for no reason than to hear the horn. You’re a kid with a big toy that makes this irresistible high-pitched sound.

What really gets my goat is when seemingly all is well, no driver is transgressing in any obvious way, and you honk your horn for no discernible reason. In that case, I’m really unnerved. If ever a substance the opposite of Teflon has been invented, it is the Presbyterian conscience. The legacy of my Presbyterian upbringing, is the very antithesis of Teflon. Everything sticks to it. A horn honking for no reason? It fastens onto us with head-spinning velocity. It’s an ingrained Pavlovian response: honk a horn anywhere within a 300-yard radius of a Presbyterian and the immediate reaction is to get panicky and say to oneself: “What did I do wrong?”

This answer is nothing at all. The Presbyterian in me says it was me. The savvier motorist knows it was some poor devil a few cars back, doing Sudoku or having an aneurysm that provoked your scornful honk. And yet I cannot shake that taint of blame that it was my bad.

And, more harmful still for the safe and smooth functioning of our streets, you will inspire copycatters. You have made it okay to honk, and so every Tammy, Dick and Harry, feels entitled to honk away and an epidemic ensues. We’re really beginning to act like members of that uncivilized tribe of goons known as New Yorkers, and you’re the bad apple leading the way.

You with your hand ever ready to blare on a horn, may it have occurred to you how unhelpful the honking is? You stir up the dormant desire to get out of my car and lecture you on the virtues of patience with a nine-iron. Drivers with less equanimity may lose control of the wheel. In sum, you are a menace, your shrill decibels roil drivers’ minds, rattle and jar beyond belief. We have to exclaim, “Whoah, bro, chill out!”

To be sure, your hair-trigger honk has made me a more patient and forbearing soul. Thanks to your abuse of the horn, when a driver remains momentarily halted in front of me after the light has turned green, I am positively inclined to let the seconds go by. It seems victorious for peace and kindness to let the daydreamer idling at the stoplight free to daydream, the glove-compartment cleaner to clean, the cellphone chatterer to chatter until they gently come to their senses. (Gently is hyperbole because more accurately, the malefactor usually jumps out of his or her skin like an electrocuted cartoon cat.) You know, nothing is quite as corrective as one’s own shocked awakening, “Oh my god, I’m in the intersection of Sepulveda and Bundy and there are 100 people waiting behind me.”

Let the poor soul apply their foot to the accelerator and drive off, un-cursed, un-fingered and un-honked at, but scolded by his or her own conscience. But you, jerk, you go and spoil the whole thing by taking your hand, thrusting the fingers down on the steering wheel and going, Hoooonk!

Previous articlePresidential Motorcade Gridlocks Beverly Hills
Next articleTelly Leung’s Successful Night At The Castle
Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)