What if... (The Honk)

Most of us are familiar with car horns being used out of anger and annoyance. Beep! Beep! Get out of my way! What are you doing, you %#@*! Don't cut me off! The light's green, you *#$(@! Beep!

Near the end of April of 2006, I was on my usual bus, on my way to the San Francisco Caltrain station, and hence on my way home from work. Another long day at the office. As usual, I paid little heed to what was going on as the bus rolled through its route.

I hazily noticed the bus driver was honking. The bus was stopped at the curb. There was a car parked right in front of the bus, with a smartly-dressed woman (the car's driver, presumably), walking between bus and car toward the sidewalk -- probably going to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

"The car must be in the way or something," I figured, though the car didn't look illegally parked. I guessed it was just another impatient bus driver, and just another clueless car driver. I vaguely envied the fashionably dressed woman; I wished I had time to stop for dinner in the city. I didn't pay any more attention.

The bus driver kept honking. And then, the woman's sudden movement caught my eye. She had returned to the driver's side of her car; she was stooping down and picking up something from the pavement. She then straightened, holding what looked like a black jacket that she hadn't been holding just moments before.

The woman grinned broadly and, as she walked by, lifted the jacket to the bus driver in thanks. The bus driver enthusiastically returned various victorious hand signals before starting the bus rolling again (easily avoiding the parked car). Clearly, he had been alerting her to the fallen jacket, which she must've dropped without noticing. I had missed whatever motions he'd made to convey his message -- I only saw the before and the after, and my assumptions had been all wrong (so much for assuming the worst!). Perhaps she, too, had assumed he was some irate bus driver -- only to realize he was, instead, a caring one.

I sat back and pondered. The horn -- so commonly the cacophonous sound of ire and spite and rage -- was, for once, a sound of helpfulness and kindness. A stranger helping a stranger.

What if, I thought, we on Earth used more of our tools at our disposal -- car horns, computers, pens, paint, or our very hands -- to help others instead of whatever negative we commonly use them for?

What a world this could be, and the honking of horns would be the sweetest melody.

Published in HeroicStories as "Changing The Melody" (#699); the HeroicStories version of this story is in part copyright HeroicStories 2007. The version on this page is copyright me (see below).

Copyright Eri Izawa 2006.

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