Being a Miami driver is complicated. You drive a fine line between not wanting to be as terrible as other Miami drivers and needing to survive your daily commute.
Getting angry is easy. Who hasn’t been swept into a fury over endless streams of blinking tail lights and irrational lane changes? But if we all honked our horns every time we were angry, the honking would never stop, and our headaches would be worse than they already are.
So here is our guide to when it’s OK to honk in Miami.
1. When a mattress flies off a car roof in front of you
An optimistic driver is trying to get three mattresses from point A to point B. He refuses to take surface roads – he might have to sit through stoplights. So he gets on the highway, hits a cruising speed of 45 mph, and then one of his janky mattresses flies off onto the road and into your path. Honk once quickly and indignantly to alert him to the loss. But only once. You’ll need the rest of your reflexes to avoid swerving dangerously into the path of drivers in the next lane, all of whom are talking on their cell phones.
2. When the driver in front of you misses a green light because he's looking at his phone
So you need to get to work or to pick up your kids from school. But this guy, he really, really needs to read that “Game of Thrones” recap on his phone. He’s stopped at a light! You expect him to sit there listening to the radio like some kind of idiot? Tap out a series of short, sarcastic honks, even though you are going to read that recap at the next light.
3. When someone is driving under the speed limit in the left lane
Warning: Honking at this driver may backfire. He or she might just hunker down and drive even more slowly due to a belief that it is his or her divinely-appointed job to impose the speed limit like some sort of wrathful highway god. No one ever gets a ticket for driving too slowly in South Florida, because there are too many other dangerous infractions occurring (drivers making and eating five-course meals in their cars, playing the piano, shaving extremely private body parts, etc). But your own mental state may require a blast from the horn just for sheer psychic relief. So honk. Just don’t expect a return on your investment.
4. When you're generously allowing another driver to cut in front of you
Your Miami driver brain says: “Death is preferable to allowing someone to merge.” It is a challenge to be helpful and friendly in the face of standstill traffic. But what if that pay it forward thing is real? Tap out a short honk and wave in a merging driver. Then prepare to lay on the horn for a solid minute when the driver behind the first guy tries to cut in front of you, too.
5. When you're trying to flag down the guy selling shrimp at the side of the road
Some days you just don’t feel like stopping at Sedano’s or Publix to grab dinner on the way home. What to do? Your prayers are answered when you spot the guy selling seafood of unknown origin out of a cooler at the side of the road or in the Home Depot parking lot. He’s doing big business. Pull over and tap out a quick honk to politely to get his attention. Then go home, enjoy your delicious road shrimp and prepare to call in sick tomorrow.
6. When the traffic stops because of something happening on the other side of the highway
Now! Let your anger flow! This is when you blast the horn with the fury of the righteous angels.