In just about any other busy city, drivers honk very casually and the sound of the horn almost never lasts more than one second. There, honking at another car means that it’s green light and it’s time to move or that you are in my lane, and that’s all the drivers are usually trying to say when they use their horn. Even in such a notoriously impatient city as New York, drivers and cab drivers would honk very briefly and it sounded like they were even doing it for fun, before that city imposed legal restrictions on using a horn.
San Francisco’s honking is very different. Somehow, the local drivers have developed and fully adopted this protracted, lingering, psychotic use of their horn that lasts for 3 second or more. It doesn’t just say “it’s time to go” or “you are in my way”, but it screams – “you are in my way, fuck you, I hate you, I wish you never existed, I am going to honk the hell out of you to punish you and all the people around who have to deal with this noise, and I will also make you realize what an idiot you are. I am also going to flip you over and I expect you do the same to me.” This kind of behavior is particularly pronounced at those streets that have timed lights. I am all for being able to drive through all green lights (i.e. Pine Street, Oak/Fell, Franklin), but unfortunately this kind of set up makes the drivers even angrier when you mess up their timing by trying to go in reverse and park. You will very likely be welcome with the most violent honking not just from the car behind you but from that entire row and your brief movement in reverse will be accompanied by an orchestra of horns and cussing by all the drivers behind you.
I don’t know when and why the drivers in this city have adopted this awful behavior but along with the widespread urine smell, homelessness, walking around naked, and pot holes despite the never ending road construction, this kind of use of horn is yet another sign of a third world culture.
Is this kind of honking yet another sign of the prevailing douchebaggery? I suppose that’s a matter of perspective.