It’s a strange but true fact that having not lived in one, single place for more than four months at a stretch (that is, without leaving to fly off somewhere else) for the past few years, I get acclimated to my new/old environments extremely quickly.
What I find most startling about being in Israel, so far, are the honks. People lean on their car horns at the slightest provocation, whether they’re waiting for someone to come downstairs and want to alert them of their presence, or whether the light has turned green and the car in front of them isn’t moving fast enough. Sometimes, the first person in a line of cars at a green light will honk, just out of habit, you know, but then will realize that it’s their responsibility to start driving first. They won’t look embarrassed, though – Israelis don’t.
This isn’t to say that New York drivers are that much better. They lean on their horns too, all the time, but somehow the sounds of honks, shouts, and rushing traffic is melodious in New York City. It’s expected. Complaining about honking cars in the Big Apple is equivalent to grumbling about buying a CD of dolphin ambient noise and finding out that all you get is the sound of waves and screeches.
Oxford drivers, to be fair, aren’t much better. Alright, they don’t honk – this is why I keep jumping half a mile every time someone does here – but they should maybe start. Honking would be better than that passive aggressive rumble of acceleration. Whenever I cross the street in Oxford, I can hear the cars zooming towards me, just aching to get all that repression out by killing one – just one! Oh, please, they have it coming! – obnoxious, jaywalking student. When I cross the street on my way from ho-hum Summertown towards hooray City Centre, I encounter car after car that almost runs me over, even though I’m crossing at what is clearly an intersection and the only place where I can reasonably cross.
Maybe it’s the small cars and low building in Oxford that are heightening the sound of the cars’ engines, but I don’t think so. I think that there’s a lot of anger in those drivers. It must, after all, be a horrible place to drive in – students walking wherever they want, dashing across the streets whenever the whim takes them, darting off the curbs without so much as a moment’s notice, cyclists streaking around corners with the bravado of Joseph Gordon Levitt in every film ever (he always rides a bike, have you noticed?) and either obeying or ignoring the traffic laws as the mood strikes them. Who would want to drive in Oxford anyway?