Listen, I don't profess to be the world's greatest driver. And, admittedly, I too have gotten caught daydreaming or looking down while sitting at a red light, prompting the person behind me to hit their horn about 0.3 seconds after it turns green. That is neither here nor there.

I'm talking to the people that act like I've done them an injustice, simply for politely trying to tell them to get a move on at a red light, or by letting a jaywalking pedestrian know I'm behind them and could they please get out of my way? You do know traffic comes through here, right? You see that sidewalk over there? The operative word is WALK there, as in WALK to the SIDE. Please.

Apparently honking your horn at people is offensive now, and in this way, I managed to offend not one, but two different people in the span of about 15 minutes the other day.

Nightly City Traffic
Getty Images/iStockphoto

It all started as I was driving through the parking lot of a local grocery establishment, just trying to get home so I could cook dinner for my starving family who were eagerly awaiting my return. I could easily have justified being in a hurry, but being the patient driver and human being I am, I at first didn't think much of it as a gentleman and his lady friend - possibly his wife - were walking through the parking lot toward the store, directly in front of me.

I don't drive a hybrid. I didn't sneak up on them. You certainly can feel the presence of a car behind you. They were apparently unfazed by my driving a whopping 2 MPH behind them as I inched closer and closer, because they were strolling through the parking lot as if they were taking in all the sights of City Park on a crisp, autumn morning.

Naturally, I assumed "maybe they don't know I'm behind them, trying to get around" so I gave my horn a polite tap. Just a quickie. I'm not a NYC cab driver, I'm not heavy handed with the horn. I find that a bit too rude for my demeanor.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Well, they jumped out of their skin. And he wheeled around so angry and so quickly you'd think I shot him with a BB gun in the back of the calf or something. He asked me, and not in the politest of tones, what my "problem was." He used an expletive in there, in front of "problem." His wife pulled him off to the side of the parking lot, closer to the parked cars - where they should have been walking already, without the honk, I might add. And I proceeded to drive past, exit the lot and finally get on my way home.

Admittedly I was a little taken aback and a little peeved about how I was treated. You're in the fairway of the parking lot, where cars drive. You're not paying attention. Why was I in the wrong for simply - and politely, with a quick tap of the horn - saying "hey, I'm here behind you and I don't want to rush you, but could you please move out of my way?" I was the good guy here. And was treated very unfairly.

Regardless, I soldiered on. I had kids to feed.

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I came to a red light, ready to turn left. I was second in line, behind a red pickup truck. One of those lifted jobs that probably was going to blow a bunch of black smoke all over me when he hit the gas. Except, as the light turned green, he didn't hit the gas at all. He didn't move.

That's when I realized his head was looking down. A teenager maybe? At least someone no older than their early 20's. They were definitely looking at their phone.

I waited what I thought was an appropriate amount of time - maybe 2 or 3 seconds - before finally giving the horn a tap to gently say "hey, green means go." And yet again, you'd think I just insulted this guy's mother. He threw his hands up in the air and visibly started shouting at me in his mirrors. His windows were up, as were mine, so I don't know what he was saying but judging by the angry expressions and flailing arms, I'm going to assume there was some more profanity in there directed my way.

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He hit the gas - I was right about the black smoke, by the way - and peeled out a little bit as he flew around the corner making the left turn and off into the abyss of traffic, no doubt late for his weekly "Road Ragers of NoCo" meeting, maybe.

All of this is to say the following. If someone honks at you, for the love of all things holy, don't get offended. Don't be angry. There's probably a legit reason why they've honked at you, and you have no idea what's going on in their world. Maybe they're late for a meeting. Maybe they have a sick kid at home. And, yeah, maybe you weren't paying attention and did or didn't do something that wasn't fair to them and their right to use the roadway.

It's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of your drive! Keep calm and carry on.

And please. I can't state this clearly enough. While you should NEVER text and drive, if you're the first car at a red light, you especially do not pick up that phone. Don't do it. Everyone else is counting on you to watch for the green and get a move on. We're following your lead. Be a leader. Not a dummy.

For the record, I'm going to take my own guidance here and I hope you do too. I shall not get angry if someone honks at me - assuming they have good reason. Hakuna matata, man. Life is precious and it's too short to spend any time mad about something as dumb as getting called out for not paying attention. You're probably only mad anyway because you know you were wrong in the first place. But that's for you to deal with at your next "Road Ragers of NoCo" meeting.

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