Biff America column: There are two types of honking
August 14, 2017
I met Sid during one of my first winters in this old mining town turned into world-class resort.
He was the finest waiter I had ever worked with, and he also had an amazing memory and an unflappable demeanor while dealing with the most difficult diners.
When any of us would complain about the tips, tourists or crowds, Sid would say, "Hush, if it wasn't for those tourists, the only jobs here would be working in the mines, and this queen ain't built for digging."
I try to remember that and remind others when I see friends or strangers displaying a lack of patience and appreciation of those who make it possible to live and work in the Rockies (above ground). What follows is a recent display of someone forgetting that.
There are two types of honking a vehicle's horn — attention grabbing and punitive.
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Attention grabbing is when you are approaching another automobile and you are under the impression that they don't see you, so you toot your horn as if to say, "Hey, here I am, don't pull in front of me!"
Punitive is after the danger and risk has passed, you still lean on your horn to audibly vent, scold and punish the offender.
It has been my observation, in the resort community which I call home, by and large, the punitive honkers are the more recent locals and the honk-ees are guests.
I had a ringside seat of this. Two roads crossed, one with a stop sign, one without. An older lady, driving an SUV large enough to grow crops in, halts at a stop sign, then rolls across the intersection assuming the approaching old truck has a similar sign.
I was sitting on my scooter, waiting for my mate who was buying buckets of wine. To pass the time, I was reading my mail (AARP had mistakenly sent me a membership card).
The conflict was predictable. First of all, it is a confusing intersection and secondly, the offending vehicle had out of state plates and did not seem familiar with the lay of the land.
It would not have even been close had the aggrieved driver slowed down. Rather he maintained his speed and leaned on his horn while yelling out his window. The guilty driver panicked, stopped abruptly, and then realizing her mistake, still took a few seconds to exit the intersection. Even after she was out of the way the horn serenade continued.
Punitive horn blowing is a relatively rare phenomenon in the politically correct, service oriented, resort I call home. The savvy resort resident realizes that visitors clogging our streets, and crowding our supermarket aisles, are the same guests that make it possible for us all to live here.
The understanding local can easily fathom how someone who saves up for months to be able to afford a visit might be easily distracted by both the beauty and elevation. The mindful denizen knows that all of us are tourists somewhere.
But, for even the best of us, the result of sharing our streets, stores, bars, rec paths and restrooms with the many thousands who visit can test patience.
It seems this occurs more often at the tail-end of the various busy seasons. I also will say it is more likely to happen during the good times when our coffers, wallets and accounts are full because we can forget when it was otherwise.
The Mines Are Gone
My mate walked out of the package store with her Sherpa who loaded her wine into the basket of my scooter. We headed down a hectic side street to look for a not too busy place to have lunch. We got stuck behind a family walking four abreast down the middle of the road.
My scooter is fairly quiet, but even so, they probably would not have heard us due to their rubber-necking at the natural beauty of the mountains and man-made quaintness of our town. No matter, we were in no hurry.
The vehicle behind me gave a quick tap on the horn and the family moved aside with an apologetic wave. As I passed I said to my mate, "Yeah, they can be a little annoying but, without them, the only work for us would be mining."
Her response, "Who are you kidding? The mines were hard work; they would never hire an AARP member."
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff's new book, "Mind, Body, Soul." is available at local shops and bookstores and online.