Dianne Dean Epps: Training horn
We have an absolutely adorable, possibly even sporty car which, other than a blind spot or two acting as the impetus for a zippy heart rate, is quite the enjoyable little number to drive. I must say, though, there’s one smallish car feature and consequential largish issue that seems to have been overlooked by the over-polite manufacturer in creating a robust image of this automobile.
This standard issue item emits an embarrassing braying sound reminiscent of a malfunctioning bike horn. The incongruous effect is not unlike a situation where, let’s say, one is appreciating the artistic value that is a stunning specimen of a man only to have him ruin the effect by opening his mouth and uttering a few words in a prepubescent voice register higher than one of the Vienna choir boys. It’s off-putting, unnatural and frustrating. Kind of like the horn.
Not only is our horn an auditory embarrassment, but its tone renders it ineffectual to the nth degree. Whenever I need to avoid someone backing into me, merging into my lane, or getting ready to pull out in front of me, I, as the beeper, tap the horn, emitting a staccato blast that’s not so much a warning as a come hither.
People commence to looking around for the Huffy bicycle that must be in the vicinity. No doubt they are aghast to learn it’s really a car, and not one of those scaled down electric models either.
Meanwhile, whatever action the “beepee” was taking often just goes forward because they’re not picking up on a potential hazard, so much as a polite “when you have a sec, move over.”
Worse than that is the state of affairs when the errant driver doesn’t hear my inoffensive toot at all. Whether I invoke a sustained tap on the apparatus, or a briefer Morse Code approach, the resultant aural effect leaves much to be desired in the usefulness category.
This has me practicing maneuvers identical to the ones I’ve witnessed on television automobile advertisements with the warning in ant dropping-sized font at the bottom of the screen, “Do not attempt. Professional driver on a closed course.”
In point of fact, I’ve had more luck waving my arms, buzzing down my window, and screaming “Stop!” in avoiding collisions, than hitting the horn.
I’m not saying when you purchase a car you should test out the horn … OK, you know what? Yes, I am. I don’t know if an awkward honk is a deal breaker, but it certainly is a negotiation point that might mitigate sticker shock. Again, like my earlier example of a guy with a voice that might not make you happy hearing after a 20-year stretch.
At the time of purchase, for some reason we tested out everything except the horn. We sat in all driver and passenger positions, we flicked on the windshield wipers, we activated the blinkers, regular and emergency, and we listened to the very fine sound system as we engaged every launch sequence the car offered.
After test driving the car, kicking tires, and plugging in our respective phones, at no time in our checking of lists twice did we think to determine if we might be adopting a baby horn, or a horn that would be in need of a transplant sometime in the near future.
I just assumed our car would come equipped with an adult-sized version of the blasted thing. I never thought to confirm that fact, and there is no software upgrade. I asked.
As the polar opposite of an ooga horn our “klaxon” — which is the other moniker it goes by — is a blow of indignity to one of our important five senses (had I had a sixth sense, I wouldn’t have purchased this car, nor written this column).
As if that’s not bad enough, I’m beginning to dread using it.
Off I go anyway — daily — defensively driving my way safely around town, not so much to keep my suave ride from getting dented. That’s a given.
I’m more careful than the average motorist because I dread close calls when I have to hit the horn, lest people look around for a phlegmy roadrunner with a chest cold. Cough, cough! Beep, beep!
Honk if you’ve got a real horn.
Diane Dean-Epps lives in Grass Valley.
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