Hey, people. If you want to say “hi” to me, do NOT honk your horn.

As someone with anxiety disorder, here is something I will never understand: how, in the world, can a honking car horn ever be construed as a “hello.”

Just a few minutes ago, I was contentedly taking a walk in my neighborhood. I had just purchased some bargain books at my favorite bookstore, and I was trying to find an outside bench to sit and start reading. I was crossing the street when, suddenly, the harsh blare of a car horn ruined my solitude. When I heard it, I did what I always do when I hear a car horn: I jumped, and hurried out of the way as fast as I could.

As I was about to finish crossing the street, I heard someone calling my name from the car. I turned. He was laughing at me. “Alan, I was trying to say hi to you. I didn’t want you to jump out the way.”

Didn’t want me to jump out of the way??? Then why the hell did he honk at me? To make matters worse, this wasn’t even someone I wanted to say hi to. This was someone who was an acquaintance at best; someone who, if I had any real guts, I would have told him to fuck off a long time ago, and he wouldn’t even think of wanting to say hello to me ever again.

It was his laugh that really bothered me. His laugh told me that I was crazy for being so scared of a car horn. Maybe I am. The truth is, car horns have always scared the shit out of me. When I was a teenager, first learning how to drive, I was with my driving instructor when a car suddenly pulled out in front of me. The instructor asked why I didn’t honk at the driver. I said I was too scared to do that. The instructor–who, being a driving instructor, had probably seen and heard everything–looked at me as if his eyes were about to pop out of his head. “Really,” he yelped, trying to sound civil. “We’re seriously going to have to work on that.”

Even though I have indeed honked a few car horns since then, I’ve never learned to like them. Even with this latest incident, I was so startled that I no longer wanted to sit on a public bench and read my new books. I just wanted to get back to my apartment and be by myself. For better or worse, that’s what I did.

So people, do me a favor. If you’re in your car and you see me, roll down your window to say hi. Do NOT honk your horn. Ever. Even if I love you, this will, in that moment, make me hate you. I’m not kidding.

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