A Detroit native who moved to Washington, D.C., shortly after college, Michael Phillips is no stranger to traffic sounds. High-pitched car alarms, screeching brakes, whirring tires, clunking transmissions—it’s all white noise to his urbanite ears. But there is one sound Phillips isn’t all that accustomed to: the friendly honk.
The friendly honk is less of a honk and more of a congenial toot—a vehicular tip of the hat, if you will. It’s a way of saying “howdy” or “mornin’” without ever leaving the driver’s seat, says Phillips, who started hearing the chummy beep after leaving the nation’s capital for White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, last April.
“It’s much different from D.C.,” Phillips says of the tiny burg (population: 2,198). For starters, there are no skyscrapers—just soaring mountain peaks. The social tapestry of the Greenbrier Valley is also softer and tighter knit. Folks linger around cups of dark roast at Tootsie’s Place, ask about each other’s kids while grocery shopping and, of course, tap their horns whenever they spot a neighbor out and about.