Joco Opinion

Denise Snodell — Ex-New Yorker wins Battle of the Little Big Horn

The other day I surprised a texting driver who ignored a green light. I leaned on the car horn and it felt really, really good. Ha ha, LOL, who would have thought a middle-aged woman driving a typical suburban vehicle on a tree-lined street — in Kansas — would wail on the horn to awaken a texter?

I would, that’s who, OMG!

Maybe holiday stress played a role, but it’s more likely I finally hit the limit of being held back by another asphalt author. I usually follow the unwritten rule around Area Code 913: Never, ever, ever beep under any circumstances. Here in “Pleasantville” we politely wait for people to notice, eventually, that green means go, even if it takes a few traffic light cycles and a half tank of idled gas.

What’s that saying? When in Rome, don’t beep at people in the Midwest.

The problem is that I learned to drive in New York. I cut my driving teeth in an area densely populated with Brooklyn transplants. I dwelled in the suburbs, yes, but most adult drivers commuted to the city every day and had no patience for even split-second hesitation.

As a fearless teenager, I quickly figured out how to navigate rush hour, the Long Island Expressway, the Southern State Parkway, Sunrise Highway, long bridges, draw bridges, sneaky potholes, numerous commuter railroad crossings and the hottest tempers on wheels. In the mix, I always thought a symphony of car horns was normal background noise. It seemed every other driver was an angry Joe Pesci with a full bladder and a wife in labor, so fuggedaboudit, you gotta drive with the palm of your hand pressed against the horn. It’s like a second accelerator.

Despite my diploma from Bada Boom Bada Beep Driving Academy, I have lived in Kansas for 20 years now and have always merged well with others on the road. Normally, if a person ahead of me is compelled to illegally text something “important” at a red light, I reach for the horn with my right hand, but find my left hand pulling it away. An internal Battle of The Little Big Horn ensues, but in the end, I don’t honk. Except for the above-mentioned morning.

I had lots to do. Wasting time was not on the list. But a few traffic lights before my destination, I noticed the car ahead of me was ever so subtlety slowing down and veering a bit. A pattern common to a phone-addicted driver. At the first red light, a closer view confirmed my suspicion — a texter. The light turned green, but apparently this woman had to finish her sentence about Mindy’s terrible casserole, so I waited. She caught on just before I employed the car horn, but my inner Pesci was rising to the surface. I was furious because she was being selfish — on my time.

On to the next intersection. Smartphone Sally swooped onto the left turn lane, which was my destination as well. Our opportunity to turn came quickly. But once again, important dispatches about Mindy’s Velveeta problem took priority over everything. I was done.


Boy, did that driver’s head snap up from her phone screen. And boy, did I think this: “Ha ha. That’s right, Sally. It was me, right behind you, the mom-type in the super dark Anthropologie sunglasses, slamming on the old horn. ROTFL. You’re 30 yards from a huge parking lot where you can stop your car and text the Gettysburg Address until the sun goes down. MOVE IT.”

She made her turn, probably with a dropped jaw. I parked in the nearby lot. And oops, she did as well, a mere few stalls away from my car.

Was it awkward walking into the same building at the same time? Let’s just say I really love my super dark Anthropologie sunglasses.