Sound The Claxon

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Peruvians know how to use their claxons. For those of you who may not know, “claxon” is the Spanish word for Twinkie.

Haha. That’s a joke. Actually, claxon is Spanish for horn, as in car horn, as in “you cut me off about two miles back so I’m teaching you a lesson by blowing my claxon. haha. serves you right, you moron. I bet you’ll never do that again to me or anybody else, because blowing my horn at you is such a great way to prove a point and teach a lesson” type of horn.

For some reason Americans aren’t very good at horns. Car horns are meant to signal, “Please watch out, you are about to do something you will regret and could cause property damage or harm to your body, or in certain cases … death.” That’s how horns are intended to be used. That’s not what Americans do with them, however. Americans love their cars and the only thing they love better than cars is the car horn. Unfortunately, the following are the only acceptable reasons for an American to use their car horn:

1. Somebody must to be taught a lesson. Honk!

2. Somebody needs to look at me so that I can flip them off. Honk! Check this out! HONK!

3. Somebody is about to take the parking spot I’ve been waiting on for a good 7 seconds. Honk! They better not. Honk!

4. Somebody is going 75 in a 70-mile-an-hour zone and I want to go 98, so they better move over a lane, even though that car going 55 is in the next lane, I don’t care they better do it or I’m also gonna start flashing my lights. HOOOOOOOONNNNNNNKKKKKKK!

5. Or, very rarely, watch out squirrel or I might run over you. Splat! Honk!

In other words, Americans are really bad at horn etiquette. I makes sense, I guess. We are horn ignorant. AT least I am. When I was taking driver’s ed, Mr. Moneypenny never taught us about how to use a horn or why. We learned more important things like “staring through the turn,” “slow down, you’re too close to Mrs. Morphis’ bumper,” “parallel parking,” or “driving 98 in a 70-mile-an-hour zone.”

“What is the horn for Mr. Moneypenny?” we would ask.

“Don’t worry about it. If they good lord wanted you to honk a horn, he would have made you a duck,” he would say.

“Huh?”

“Slow down, you’re gonna hit Mrs. Morphis.”

So we didn’t learn to use the horn properly. But Peruvians know how to use the horn. Peru is home to the ruins of the Incan civilization that lived around 700 to 800 years ago. They were able to build some magnificent structures and raise crops that would be the envy of the world. In other words, they were way ahead of their time. That’s why the Spaniards had to come in and show them what real civilization was by building huge churches and introducing small pox.

Somehow, in spite of the Spaniards, the Peruvian  people survived and thrived. Many of them still celebrate the Inca culture and are proud of the Incan ruins that survived the Spanish invasion. Most important of these ruins is called Machu Picchu. This holy site of the Incas was built about 700 years ago and was never found by the Spaniards because the Incas knew they were coming and hid the great site. The first outsider to discover the ruins was some five hundred years later in the early 20th century.

Because of all the ruins, Peru has a lot of tourism. People come from all over the world to see the ruins in Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and especially Machu Picchu. Because of the tourists, the country needs a lot of cab drivers. Because of the cab drivers, people have to use their horns, or claxons. And they use them a lot. A whole lot.

But in Peru, the car horn signals many different things. Unlike in America, the Peruvians use their horns for things like:

1. I would like to announce that I’m coming up to this corner at a speed roughly the same as the final straightaway at Daytona. Please, if you are a pedestrian, do not venture out into the road. Thank you.

2. I would like to announce that even though I’m six cars back at this traffic light that just turned green, I would like the person in the front of the line to go. You’ve already had 2 milliseconds to make a decision, so I am signaling to you that the light is indeed green.

3. I would like to announce that I was already in this lane that you are about to pull into and if you decide to proceed with entering my lane, I will allow it because I will also do it to somebody else 72 times today. Said person will also use their horn to make the same announcement to me at that time.

4. I would like to announce that I am a cab driver and since you are walking on the sidewalk, you might need a ride. Would you like a ride? You can ride if you want? You don’t have to walk? Do you want a ride? No? Okay, I would now like to announce that I am coming up this corner so, you, dear pedestrian, do not venture out into the road or you will die. Thank you.

5. And lastly, I would like to announce that the Spaniards are coming. Please hide Machu Picchu.

Peru is a great place. It’s noisy as hell with horns blaring all hours of the night. But honestly, I never saw one wreck while I was down there. Mostly because they don’t let Americans drive down there. It is again the law, punishable by up to life in prison or death by claxon. Even though all Peruvians seem to drive like maniacs — lanes are suggestions, traffic lights are ignored, weaving in and out of traffic is encouraged — nobody hits nobody. It’s a well-oiled machine. I have to believe that most of the reason why is because of the horn etiquette. I mean, it is annoying listening to all those horns honking, but it just works. I’m sure they have horrific accidents. They have to. The streets down there are crazy but I didn’t see any in 10 days of zipping in and out of traffic in various forms of taxi. They are safe.

And nobody seems to get upset. If somebody pulls over in front of a Peruvian driver, they politely or not so politely honk, pull in behind the car and get on with their day. That would never work here. Other drivers need to be taught a lesson with horns and fingers. And so, we wreck. A lot.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, let’s all be safe out there and take a lesson from the Peruvians, when you see the Spanish coming, sound your claxons and stay away from the smallpox.

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