Tuesday, October 27, 2015

For The Love of Honking

We've lived out of the USA for five and a half years now and had our fifth "Sandiversary," just two months ago. Living cross culturally means that there is almost a constant barrage of small (or large!) differences than what you think or know as normal.

Eventually though, something that once seemed odd or out of place becomes an accepted norm. And that's when the (funny) problems start.

I don't even notice a difference when I am surrounded by a sea of women in black Abayas or men in crisp white Kandoras.

American accents catch me off guard because we are around so many different accents on a normal basis.

The kids refer to many different things in a backslash manner: "I need a band aid/plaster, Momma!" "I have to use the potty/toilet/go wee!" "Are we going to fetch/pick up Maya?"

I only flinch a little when driving by the "forest," of little four foot scrawny trees on the edge of the highway that you can see the sand dunes on the other side of. Though I die a little on the inside when Grace croons about how GIANT the trees are and how Abu Dhabi has "SO MANY TREES!!" (they aren't and we really don't have that many. At. All.)

It does not even PHASE me to see Ferrari, Bentley, or Rolls Royce cars on the roads or in the parking garage. Mercedes and BMW? Psh. Common place.

And honking? A totally normal part of our driving experience.

Growing up in America, honking was reserved for people with anger management issues. You only laid on a horn to let someone know you were very upset and wished you could do something about it. If someone honked at you, you would probably cry in embarrassment or yell back at them in anger.

Here? The horn is more of an alert to let someone know something is amiss. All day, every day.

Pedestrians crossing the highway in front of you?
Lay on your horn.

Land Cruiser passing you on the right hand side (on the shoulder, no less?)
Lay on your horn.

Maseratti handle the circle (roundabout) incorrectly? Lay on your horn to remind him that he is DOING IT WRONG!

Nissan Patrol cruising down the highway straddling two lanes? Lay on your horn to remind him he is an idiot! And rude! And inconsiderate! (Seriously. This is my biggest pet peeve. I see it every single day. I'm not sure if it is because they are rude or they want a wide berth to keep their expensive car from getting hit.)

But the awesome part of the horn here is that it is pretty detached from an emotional reaction. You honk and move on with your life.

The girls are so used to me honking that Grace has taken to asking "What was that driver doing naughty? He should learn how to drive the right way!"

Often I don't even realize I have honked until Grace asks that and then I have to think about it.

We have amazing road systems here, which I am very thankful for. And fairly safe drivers, too. Sure there are some speed demons. Sure there are some law breakers. But, for the most part everyone is kept to a pretty high standard and without left hand turns (you have to go down to a light or circle, U-turn, then can turn right into something,) it takes one of the biggest dangers out of play.

Plus, I can hide behind my deeply tinted windows and still respect the law of the land:

"I'm a guest in this country, I'm a guest in this country, I'm a guest in this country."

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