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drive, she said

It's 2 a.m., a hot sultry night. With the humidity finally lifted a little, nothing feels better than having windows opened at last, ceiling fans stirring, and some of that long-awaited Canadian summer air breezing through.

That is, until your neighbour's guests leave, and blast two long honks on their car horn to remind the people they just spent an hour saying goodbye to in the driveway – after spending eight hours in their backyard – that they are indeed leaving.

Why do people do this?

I do not expect rural quiet in an urban setting. Patio chatter, hot tub frolicking, all varieties of music mingling in the night air – all of this is woven into the quilt of city living. I'll admit to appreciating when folks dial it back a bit by midnight – I lived with a veritable frat house backing onto mine a couple of years back and sat up most nights poised with a fire extinguisher, ever fearful their giant bonfires would set up a flaming maze of interconnected drought-ravaged hedges. They were terrible neighbours in most ways; but there is nothing quite as special as those who abuse their rights to a car horn.

As a rule, I find people who don't read their car manuals end up not realizing just how many neat things their car can do. They're missing out on some unique settings, important instructions, and a sense of control very much needed when their car starts flashing things and they make a desperate fumble through the glove box, chasing down an index that includes everything but what the car is currently doing.

It's too bad, because many cars will allow you to disengage the horn when you lock it with the remote. This is usually a factory setting; the same way you change the seats and mirrors, you can change this. Locking your car and having the horn reassure you it is truly locked may be comforting. For the unwitting person standing next to your car, it can be startling. Especially if you're a block locker – you hit your remote a block away from your car, as you perhaps enter the mall.

Horns should be used to warn of imminent danger. Their use should be a rarity. Instead, they're being used increasingly to convey the fact that somebody has enraged you. The person who cut you off doesn't give a damn; nailing your horn does not shoot darts into their tires to teach them a lesson, nor release a puff of lavender into your car to calm you down.

Why bother?

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