My little 2000 Jetta turns 12 in May, and she’s hanging in there. I told myself when I bought her brand new in 1999 that I was going to drive her ’till she dropped, and I plan on sticking to that statement. Over the years there’s been a couple of fender benders, an electrical transmission overhaul (still under warranty), new breaks, new tires, and a horrible situation with mold, but my dear Jetta keeps on running.
The wiper motor died a few weeks ago, which made driving in Chicago weather a bit treacherous. But a quick trip to the mechanic and a motor cleansing had the wipers good as new.
Now the horn is no longer working. Which is making me a different driver here in Chicago. When I lived in Portland I rarely honked my horn. It would seem rude to honk if someone did something I didn’t like. In Portland I just gripped my steering wheel tighter and then let it go.
That all changed once I started driving in Chicago. Everyone honks here; it’s an aggressive driving situation with the mix of taxi’s slowly cruising to find passengers; and the taxi’s that have their patrons and want to prove they could be in Formula One racing if they really wanted. There’s no patience for the person who gets distracted at the light and doesn’t floor it the minute it turns green. The poor soul looking for a parking spot is deemed an ass-hole for holding up someone else’s forward momentum. And at all times there is a symphony of horns.
I admit, I’ve gotten used to honking my horn in a show of irritation for other drivers. It doesn’t alleviate any of my stress, but it does let the other drivers know I’m frustrated they’re not doing what I want them to do. With a horn that’s gone mute I can no longer blast my frustration; oddly, I find I’m not as frustrated.
Now when someone is sitting at a light too long after it’s turned green I flash my headlights. I have to admit it seems nicer. Instead of my car horn shouting, “Hey, buddy get your ass moving!” The headlights flash a message saying, “Hey, not sure if you noticed but the light has changed. I’d like to go.”
The other day a woman intersected traffic to turn left into the lane I was in. She didn’t see me, I slammed on my breaks and my hand instantly went to the horn sending out a signal that only a dog could hear. My breaks worked, she merged into traffic and everyone was fine. I realized not hearing a horn allowed me to breath easier more quickly.
I’ll take my car in at some point to have the horn looked at, but until then I’m kind of happy not to add my notes in the horn section that is Chicago’s street symphony.