Thursday, November 3, 2016

Houston, Pt. 1: Traffic

If Sisyphus's punishment was to push a rock up a mountain for all eternity, mine would be to sit in Houston traffic.

I leave for work around 6am, and have an 8.1 mile commute to work.  At 6am the traffic is already standstill.  What takes 15 minutes in no traffic takes twice that long, or longer.  At SIX O'CLOCK in the morning.

This is what I have found is the cause:
It is the result of a complete lack of consideration for oneself or anyone else.

The people here are nice, for the most part. I've sat down at an entirely empty bar and the next person to walk in sat down directly next to me and just started talking like we were old friends.

I assure you, though, that man got into his vehicle later and did one of these things (because they're things I've only seen Houstonians do):
1. Texted and drove (or Facebook'd, Instagram'd, online shop'd).  I don't mean glanced up and down at their phone and the road.  I mean barreling down the highway at 70mph with their phone directly in front of their face.
2. Made a right turn from the left lane
4. Was on a highway and merged across 6 lanes in one motion
5. Exited the highway at the last moment, causing other drivers to slam on their brakes, barely missing barriers, even though there is ample signage for miles before an exit even happens
6. Drove a car with one or zero functioning brake lights
7. Didn't use a turn signal
8. Didn't use a turn signal and had no functioning brake lights so no one behind him knew what was happening
9. Honked his horn at someone not turning right at a red light, despite there being a "No Turn on Red" sign
10. Wanted to cross a multi-lane road in his pickup truck that's pulling a trailer and blocked all lanes going one direction while he waited casually for a break in traffic going the opposite direction- and no one in the stopped traffic became visually or audibly upset
11. Didn't want to wait in traffic to get to an exit so he simply drove off the side of the road
12. Drove an absurdly large truck despite never having to need to haul things and holding a job that has him sitting behind a desk 60 hours a week
13. Threw all of his trash out the window on the highway
14. Decided he wanted to be in a different lane than he was in and without signalling or waiting for a safe break in traffic, kind of just threw himself into the next lane over, nearly hitting four cars somehow
15. Wanted to skip traffic and so drove down the shoulder until he met a bend in the road and had to slam on his brakes because oops there was a cop on the other side writing someone else a ticket but now he's stuck because it's standstill traffic and so he got a ticket too
16. Came to a complete stop on a highway to let other drivers using the on ramp merge
17. Hopped on his horse and trotted down the grassy medians all the way home

There's no shame in Houston.  The horn honking happens at the wrong times.  The horn honking happens when one driver wants the other to stop being in their way whether it's in keeping with traffic mores or not, not as an attention grabber (as in, "You're about to crash into me!" or "The light has been green for more than 5 seconds and you're still stopped!").  If someone cuts off another driver in traffic, there's no horn or rude gesturing.  There's no swerving and dipping through traffic just to cut that person off for cutting off you first.  There's no yelling locally grown insults.  People need to know they've done something stupid so they can learn to not do that thing ever again.

People. Need. Shame.

What is the Texan equivalent to Philly's "jabroni" or Pittsburgh's "jagoff"?  There isn't one, because people don't shame each other here and so folks keep on being awful and inconvenient and annoying.

Someone has to teach these people to salt the snails.