You always hope this happens, but it never does. But every now and then JUSTICE PREVAILS!

So, we’re driving north on 371 just out of Baxter. Amanda, who is an excellent driver, is at the wheel. Moderate traffic, overcast but no precipitation, just before nightfall.

Suddenly, from the corner of our eyes we see a black pickup truck with two young men in it accelerated down slope from a shadowy parking lot, speeding down the steeply sloped drive. The pickup swerved onto the road directly into our path. Amanda, skillfully, swerved and braked, averting a collision with the pickup and avoiding getting slammed by oncoming or co-vectoring traffic.

The pickup swerved a few more times, accelerated, passed a few cars and drove out of sight. My comment: “Jeesh Amanda, I’d be on my horn for the next five minutes! You know, the horn. That thing in the middle of the steering wheel.”

(Note: Minnesotans don’t use the horn. Ever.)

“Well,” she replied, probably correctly, “They’ve probably got a shot gun, and we don’t.”

Well, we continued north on 371 and about twenty minutes later, heading out of the sleepy town of Pequot Lakes (where there is almost always a speed trap on weekend evenings) we could see a patrol car, bubble gums flashing, with someone pulled over.

As we got closer we could see that it was a black pickup. Closer still, we could see that it was our good ol’ boys.

“Ha!” I said, about a hundred times. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” I shouted out the window as we drove by. “Gotcha!”

Don’t mess with the man in Pequot Lakes.


  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    August 3, 2008

    Minnesotans do use the horn, but we recognize that it’s a tool for communication. I think the most frequent message conveyed by horn in Minnesota is, “Light’s green.”

    What message could she send in this case? “There are people here”? They already knew that. “You’re a jerk”? I bet they knew that too. “You’re an idiot”? They wouldn’t have gotten the distinction between idiot and jerk, because they probably think anyone who isn’t a jerk is an idiot for being so nice.

    “You’re an idiot” is the kind of message that can really only be delivered to a driver in two ways. I’m glad you guys were only involved in kind you were.

  2. #2 decrepitoldfool
    August 3, 2008

    Awesome result! Well-deserved schadenfreude.

    One of my cars’ horn didn’t work for five years, and I never missed it. Somewhere back in the sands of time I realized that in an imminent collision, by the time the horn registers in the other guy’s addled brain, and he decides to respond (hopefully in the right way) our cars are already interlocked with steam coming out of the radiators. Better to brake, accelerate, or steer as needed.

  3. #3 greg laden
    August 3, 2008

    I drove in the Boston area for seventeen years. The horn is how you make space in front of your car for you to drive into.

    By the way, Minnesotans actually ae even reluctant to use the horn to tell people about the green light. Yes, they do it, but often avoid it far longer than seems necessary. To me.

  4. #4 Sven DiMilo
    August 3, 2008

    Avoiding collisions? That’s not what a horn is for! The horn is a versatile communication tool, sending messages as varied as “You can’t turn left here, dumbass!” and “Do you know the word ‘yield’?” and “What, are you kidding me? You’re blocking an entire lane of traffic, jerk!” and of course “Hang up and drive, you oblivious idiot!”

  5. #5 Zeno
    August 3, 2008

    Sven is evidently fluent in horn.

  6. #6 Sven DiMilo
    August 3, 2008

    …in both Boston and Long Island.

  7. #7 Argus
    August 3, 2008

    I got pulled over once for “excessive honking,” so I don’t use the horn much anymore.

  8. #8 CRM-114
    August 3, 2008

    Yesterday around midday I was driving into an intersection where the light had been green a couple minutes. A car blew through the light on my right, and I hit the brakes and the horn and cranked the wheel in a split second. (Any time I approach anything questionable, my left foot hovers over the brake, so I can slam them on before you’ve got your foot off the gas.) She heard me and slammed on her brakes. She rocked to a stop just before I swerved around front of her, so the closest we came to contact was a foot of empty space.

    The odd thing was my reaction: I turned to look at her with a smile on my face, shaking my head.

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    August 3, 2008

    I can’t say I’m big on the idea of importing driving practices from Boston, but that could just be me. 🙂

  10. #10 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 3, 2008

    In Boston, people don’t get their body work done if they are involved in a front end collision. It’s a warning.

  11. #11 laurisa
    August 3, 2008

    horns. that’s all you hear in west africa. I take a water taxi to and from work everyday, and damn if the captain doesn’t lay on that horn too.

  12. #12 Andrew
    August 3, 2008

    CMF drives?

  13. #13 Mike Dunford
    August 3, 2008

    In NYC, horns are used exactly as intended – to capture the attention of the offending driver. Because if you don’t catch their attention, how are they gonna see the hand gestures?

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    August 3, 2008

    And the countervailing rule in New York City: Don’t ever look behind you.

  15. #15 Alan Kellogg
    August 4, 2008

    Way back when, before a number of you were even born, I was at a stop light in the city of El Cajon California. I was at the light waiting to walk across (perpetual pedestrian) when a honkin’ great full-sized pickup (we had them back then too) came up just as the light changed. Before I could move the driver said, “HA!” and ran the light.

    With the CHP right behind.

  16. #16 Bob
    August 4, 2008

    I had a similar experience a few years ago when a car whipped past me on the right on a residential street and blew through the four-way stop I was decelerating towards. I was just about to curse when the unmarked Crown Vic stopped at the intersection flipped on its rollers and hauled ass after the scofflaws.

    As we were returning to work from lunch, the schadenfreude made an excellent dessert…

  17. #17 Ben Zvan
    August 4, 2008

    My wife said you’d be proud of me yesterday. I used my horn to tell someone they were being dangerous.

    I don’t care if they’re being a dick as long as it’s not potentially harmful to anyone other than them.

  18. #18 Jim S.
    August 4, 2008


    “What’s behind-a me, is-a not important!”

    Courtesy: Gumball Rally as the Italian driver rips the rearview mirror of the Ferrari Daytona windshield.

    I commute to NYC M-F and walk from Penn Station to the UN. I get to witness NYC driving as an (almost) un-involved member of the pedestrian audience. I say almost, ’cause I’ve learned that buses almost never use their horns and will run you down!

    It has always seemed to me that most of the really enthusiastic horn blasters in NYC are actually screaming “HEY!! It’s all about ME!! And I’m being inconvenienced here!! HEY!!”

  19. #19 laurisa
    August 4, 2008

    i love how the category for this story is “art.” Score, Amanda!

    i also love the interjection of your quoted comment. It’s just so…you!!! 🙂

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    August 4, 2008

    Notice that I have never stated what I think is the best approach to driving.

    I learned to make a car go in New York, but I learned to drive it around on Martha’s Vinyard. Then I learned what a car can really do in Boston. Then I did it all over again in the mud with a Land Rover in the Congo, where there are no other vehicles to beep at.

    I do think the horn has a warning function. I’m undecided on its social reward/punishment function. But I’m pretty sure about it’s expressive abilities.

  21. #21 Kevin
    August 4, 2008

    “And the countervailing rule in New York City: Don’t ever look behind you. ”

    Yes, well New Yorkers are the best drivers. The ones that know the rule anyway.

    That is: “You worry about whats in front of you and don’t run into it, and trust that the guy behind you is doing the same thing.”

    That way you really don’t have to look behind you.

  22. #22 themadlolscientist, FCD
    August 5, 2008

    I’ve always been a pretty patient driver in heavy traffic. It takes something really major to annoy me (such as some hotrodder or biker with twice as many horsepower under the hood as brain cells in the head, weaving in and out with inches to spare and putting everyone in danger).

    My ex used to nag me to honk at this or that minor annoyance. I just rolled my eyes and said to him, “Honking out of minor irritation is rude, and if it’s a real emergency, I’m too busy steering and trying not to hit someone/something, skid, or run off the road – any of which is more likely if I worry about making noise instead of focusing my brain and and all my extremities on getting the hell out of the way.”

    After about 5 years of nagging and getting the same reaction every time, he finally gave up.