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Editor's notes: I knew my horn would get me in trouble
Jeff Whitten

I knew my horn was going to get me in trouble one day.

It finally did. Right after I took a right Tuesday morning on Highway 84 at Frank Martin Road in Hinesville.

That’s when some guy in a pickup pulling a trailer pulled out of a motel parking lot and pulled onto 84 in front of me. So I hit the horn as I went around to inform him I didn’t appreciate that.

And I didn’t. I had somewhere to be too.

Well, things got sideways from there.

I got about 500 feet down the road when, next thing I know, the guy drove around me, pulled halfway over in my lane and stopped with his pickup and trailer blocking both lanes of traffic. It’s then I learned he is an elderly gentleman with a baseball cap and an accent that suggested he’s originally from somewhere up north. (Sudden thought: Maybe he’s one of those Canadians the president is going on so much about.) And he was spitting mad, as some folks like to say. At first I thought he was about to hop out onto the road and come over and do something we’d both regret, but then he rolled down the passenger’s side window and bellowed something that I paraphrase thusly: “If you ever honk your horn at me when you’ve got a free lane to get over into, I’m going to smash your machine into little pieces.” It came at me over the top of his wife, who appeared to be shell-shocked.

Though at first somewhat bemused by what I had apparently wrought, I got mad too. So not to my credit, I responded with a profanity-laced tirade of my own about his being full of something brown and smelly. Truth is, I’m not even sure what I said, except for the smelly brown part.

Or him, except for that part about smashing my whats-it into tiny pieces.

I suspect we snorted words like “GARRGLLLEARGHHSHEHEHS YERR HRUUHMNMOOGLyeMMRH-FASTARJOFF!!” at each other a minute, or at least I did, then he pulled out of my way (and everybody else’s) and got on his way and I got on mine — which was up Gen. Stewart and then over to Fort Stewart to cover something.

Later, of course, I felt ridiculous. For starters, despite what to me was clearly a bully move, he was an older guy and probably didn’t have much time leftt o get where he was going before he gets where he’s going, if you know what I’m saying.

Anybody who thinks senior citizens drive like little old ladies from Pasadena hasn’t spent much time in this part of Georgia.

They’re in a hurry to get in all the living they can before the lights go out, and I don’t blame them. When I turn 90 the last thing I want is to be stuck in traffic behind a caravan of transplants from Akron wandering down 144 to buy BOGO potato chips and Pepsi at Publix.

But still.

I should’ve been nicer.

I shouldn’t have honked my horn at the pickup. For one thing, that’s rude.

For another, the pickup owner could’ve had a gun. And used it, thereby depriving the world of one less hack editor.

And now that I’ve had time to absorb it a bit, it’s just one more sign of what someone smarter than me noted is the way we are dehumanized by the machines and technology we tend to rely on these days.

If you think about it, we’re at our most savage and simple and stupid when technology is involved.

The bullying on social media, which has driven kids to despair so profound they end their lives.

The stupid fights over whether a knockoff gun designed to look like an assault weapon that can fire 30 rounds in 30 seconds is an automatic weapon or merely some sportsman’s tool. All while some use the tools to shoot up schools.

The way in which people drive, as if it’s a winner take all race to see who can get to the next traffic light first and nobody matters but the person you see in your mirror.

Or maybe I’m just overthinking an incident that didn’t really amount to that much in the great scheme of things.

Still, I’m giving up the horn.

Whitten is managing editor of two newspapers. It keeps him hopping.

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