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Horn honking is un-Minnesotan

January 5, 2011



A bear in Colorado hopped in a car and went for a little joy ride last summer. He (we assume this was a teenage boy bear) made the mistake of honking the horn, which brought some attention and the police.

Now if this had been a Minnesota bear, he’d have driven to Florida by now, living high instead of hibernating. You see, Minnesotans are so full of “Minnesota nice” that they don’t honk and attract police attention. They may not even know where their horn is.

You think I’m making this up. But the Minneapolis paper just had an article titled “Snetiquette: dealing with snow, politely.” The section on honking says:

“Honking: Gratuitous. As a general rule of thumb, Minnesota drivers don’t honk their horns except to alert the flocks of geese that occasionally try to stroll across the parkways around the city lakes on summer afternoons. A lot of Minnesotans aren’t even sure where the horn is on their car.

“Leaning on your horn in frustration because traffic isn’t moving might be standard operating procedure in Manhattan but it’s very un-Minnesotan. It will invariably lead to a high “tsk tsk” factor from your fellow stranded motorists.”

Complaining to my friend that my husband’s Buick Rendezvous has an impossible-to-find horn also led to some tsking. By the time you’ve banged all over the steering wheel center and squeaked out a honk, I explained, the horn-qualifying event has passed, you’ve wrecked or you’ve broken your wrist.  My friend looked puzzled about my angst, as if I were from another planet (Kentucky, maybe?). He shrugged. “Who needs a horn?” he tsked, rhetorically. “Can’t remember the last time I used mine.”

I’m going to have to forgive my friend for what I thought was his heartless tsking about my need for a working horn. I did not realize that non-honking behavior is just as deeply Minnesotan as spirited horn honking is Italian or Bostonian.

Yesterday my husband, who’d rolled his eyes politely when I mentioned how much I hated his horn, needed his horn. Okay.  A female driver, probably from Boston, pulled out impolitely. He beat around on the steering wheel, and it never even made a peep. Then she flipped him off. “Gonna install an air horn,” he stated.

“You’re being un-Minnesotan. The geese have moved south. You don’t need a horn,” I almost tsked. Then I remembered Hubby was born in Iowa.  He and the Colorado bear don’t have to worry as much about “Minnesota nice.” Maybe I’ll get a decent horn in that vehicle after all.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary V permalink
    January 6, 2011 11:21 am

    Funny piece; good points. I, too, rarely use my horn. Only when I see a car coming dangerously close to me and not seeing me–mostly in store parking lots. Horn comes in handy then all right! Also have to be persnickety and point out to the Star Tribune that horn honking is now illegal in Manhattan. How about that?

  2. Greta permalink
    January 6, 2011 1:51 pm

    I definitely feel handicapped without a horn… Michiganders also are polite, especially about horns.

  3. January 19, 2011 2:17 pm

    My husband (Minnesota born) really does know where his horn is…and uses it. Fortunately, he found it when a man backed into his car in the Wal M art parking lot! We do have to remember, though, that my husband has lived Back East. Hmmm

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