Commuter Pet Peeve – Trucks Honking

Semi truck by KOMUnews

Today marks the second day of spring and the time when the sun is in my eyes during both trips to and from work. That sunlight means something else: truckers honking.

First, let me clarify a few things for my international readers. Here in the U.S. we call a lorry a “Semi” (short for Semi-trailer Truck see Wikipedia for an explanation). And “honking” refers to mashing the button on the steering wheel to sound the klaxon/horn (rather than throwing up?). On a truck here they’re usually operated by a lanyard/pull chain. So you can often see the semi driver (trucker) reach up and pull something in their cabin — if you’re paying attention. If you have a child in the car with you, sometimes its fun to have the child mime pulling on a pull chain when passing a Semi to get the trucker to sound the horn. Much giggling ensues following a successful campaign. But I digress…

When I first began the commute to my current job, everyone told me I’d hate the 45mile trek twice a day. It’s been nearly six years now. I don’t mind it much except for the odd traffic jam or horrible ice. A few also mentioned how I’d despise having the sun in my eyes because I was driving East in the morning and West in the evenings. They were right about that. HOWEVER, no one mentioned the honking, which turns out to be the thing I dislike most (after the jams and ice of course). That would be because everyone I’d talked to was MALE.

Read on for a little story or SKIP directly to the explanation.

Allow me to paint a mental picture for you (this is a true story, y’all):

My tunes are blaring out the open windows as I fly past slowpokes going 69m.p.h. in a 70 (70m.p.h. speed limit area). Warm spring wind is ruffling my hair, sticking strands to my glossed lips (I’m a bit addicted to lip gloss). I’m merrily singing along to Elbow’s “Grounds for Divorce” and perhaps seat dancing like the über goober I am.


An air horn sounds feet behind/beside me. I’m startled half out of my wits. Assuming the worst — that I’ve nearly run into someone or that my tire is flat — my heart lodges in my throat and my stomach does a three-point dive into the floorboards.

I signal and then merge into the traveling lane. Frantically I dash the volume dial on the stereo down as I consider the car’s performance. Is the steering wheel pulling to one side or the other? Does it feel like any of the tires are thumping? Did anyone SWERVE?


I look in the rear view mirror. The trucker is doing some complex motioning in his broad windshield. I have NO CLUE what he wants! Is my gas cap flapping? The bumper?! Is it HANGING?! OH MY GOSH!

So I pull off at the next exit just to check otherwise the next thirty minutes of my life will be a nail-biting experience. The trucker gives me some sort of hand gesture of exasperation as he sails past me. I still have no clue what he’s trying to tell me.

I check everything on the car at a gas station. It all seems fine. Heart pounding, I start up the car and head back to the interstate.

The car is still copacetic. No one honks at me. Slowly I work up to speed, holding somewhere around 69 m.p.h. (now I’m the slow poke). Miles pass, the car is still operating as I’m accustomed. Tentatively I turn the volume back up but I’m not longer seat dancing. I can’t even sing because I’m so worried that my car is trailing fire or something equally as horrific.

The warning for my exit sign appears on the horizon. I breathe a sigh of relief.


SWEET ZOMBIE CHRIST! What NOW?! The air horn startles my heart into another frenetic race. I merge off the ramp, terrified. The miles over town roads and paths abutting cornfields pass in a nail-biting blur. I get home and call out my guy to give the car a good checking. He pronounces it fine (or as fine as a six-year-old Kia Spectra can be).

It wasn’t until I’d been honked at several more times AND I’d happened upon a long-haul driver from Canada on Internet chat that I found out what this honking is all about.

Apparently on freeways/highways etc, truckers will honk at women they find attractive. There are differing reports as to why. Perhaps it’s an expression of appreciation. Perhaps it’s a request to be FLASHED.

Given the experience with the driver motioning at me, I’m of the opinion they want to be flashed. (And the knowledge that I get honked at more when wearing a low-cut top).

There’s a term called “Seat Cover” that refers to a car’s driver. Truckers will communicate with each other on their CBs about the “Nice seat cover in the red convertible four wheeler”.

How do you stop it? Get tinted windows or get a sex change. LOL.
It seriously doesn’t matter how bad you look. Didn’t do your hair this morning? Bleary-eyed from a lack of sleep thanks to pesky day light savings? No worries! They’ll STILL honk! In fact, they might even pass you going 80m.p.h. just so they get the chance to do it again (scared the crap out of me this mornin’, y’all)
Ah, spring is back. And so is the honking. At least the weather is GREAT!

Related link — Female truck driver answers: Why do truckers honk at me in my VW Beatle?

Check CB Gazette for more CB Slang.

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