Confessions of a Lonestar Commuter: One Civic on a Truck-eat-Truck highway

Picture this: A mom and pop store welcomes you with a tall cold glass of home-brewed sweet tea, everyone calls you darlin’ and holds the door open. 10-gallon hats and “Howdy’s” abound. Aahhh… TEXAS!

OK. Now picture this:

No, no… after YOU.
Photo Courtesy of infrastructureusa.org

Welcome to Texas, y’all.

**DISCLAIMER**

Since moving here I have formed friendships with marvelous Texans, the food here is unbelievably awesome (TX BBQ > NC BBQ – Yep I went there), and the 70 degree days in February? Don’t mind if I do! So TX is not a total bust.. I just need to release some aggravation towards one very particular thorn in my side. It’s one that I know anyone who has ever navigated in a city has also dealt with: OTHER DRIVERS… er… traffic.

** END DISCLAIMER**

My husband and I had no idea what Texas would be like. But let’s be honest, scenario A (described above) was a little closer to what we were expecting: big hair, sweet tea, and pickup trucks. My conclusion? The hair is underwhelming, the sweet tea is unremarkable and the pickup trucks? Don’t get me started… or rather, please see below. 🙂

With the help of my dad and sister-in-law, myself and my husband roadtripped halfway across the country in our trusty Honda Civic and a Penske truck (affectionately deemed “Penske Pants” by yours truly). Aside from a nail in one of the truck tires that set us back an hour or so, the trip was uneventful and enjoyable. My awesome co-pilot kept me laughing with stories about John’s childhood and we had a great time together!

So there we were… two happily naive east coasters driving straight into the heart of a monster.

Enter Complaint/Frustration #1 with driving in TX: Merge? What?

I’m a cautious driver (in new surroundings at least) so I was faithfully sticking to the right lane to avoid what I hoped were the abnormal psychotic drivers zipping and zooming in between the other lanes. As we run into some traffic (2pm on a Tuesday) I begin to slow down and see out of the corner of my right eye a ginormous black shiny monster of a vehicle  — pickup truck #1. This guy holds a special place in my hit-list heart. He was in the merging lane, I had the right-of-way (HA!). Did I mention he was ginormous? We’re talking F-550 here people.

So I see him there and continue to drive on like a law-abiding citizen. BIG MISTAKE. With a trembling voice my sister-in-law quickly remarks, “Uhh Rachel? I don’t think he’s going to stop for you.” And sure enough! I slam on my brakes in disbelief as the truck cruises, no braking whatsoever, right in front of me. Sweating profusely and trying not to swear loud enough for my passenger to hear I simply say, “WHOOAA! Holy cow!” We made it safely to our new place (praise the Lord!) but my heart began to sink as it became increasingly clear — oh crap. This is normal here.

And it works both ways when merging. As the merger, TX drivers just keep driving straight into traffic. And if you’re the one merging into traffic, TX drivers next to the merge lane just keep driving very very close to each other. It’s as if their car is inexplicably attracted to the bumper in front of them and there is no way on God’s green earth they are going to let you “cut” between them. “You wanna merge in front of ME?! Nice try pal. I see you with your turn signal on, lookin’ over your shoulder… WELL KEEP LOOKIN… I’m just gonna finish this text mess…er…keep driving.”

By now I’m sure you put together the unfortunate reality of the situation: if no one lets you in but nobody actually waits to be let in… doesn’t that mean…?

Accidents? Yep. Lot’s of ’em.

The first few weeks of this I was close to tears and absolutely over driving anywhere. But I didn’t want to take the public transportation system because I… didn’t want to take the public transportation system. So it was either adapt or walk. I chose to adapt. Now I’m not here to brag about my brilliant driving savvy but suffice it to say – this girl has learned the ropes (read:honks her horn loudly and prays without ceasing).

Onto Complaint/Frustration #2 with driving in TX: The magical appearance and/or disappearance of several lanes of traffic. Simultaneously.

And by magical I mean — SUDDEN, NO WARNING, Bippidi-boppidi- GONE or VOILA! 3 more lanes! Also, ever heard of the “Mix Master?” Sounds like a fun ride at the fair right? WRONG.

No cotton candy here folks! Just chaos. Hair-raising chaos.
Photo courtesy of http://www.depts.ttu.edu

Pretty impressive isn’t it? This isn’t the same one I’ve driven on but you get the gist. I’m convinced that at some point the makers of the mix-master I’m familiar with sat down and asked themselves, “How can we make this a terribly unpredictable road to navigate?” And some low life suggested, “Hey! Why don’t we randomly add and subtract lanes?”  Yeah. Thanks a lot “buddy.”

You can almost hear their evil giggles as they make the “necessary” adjustments on the blueprints. “Hmmm let’s see… how about the left lane becomes an exit only lane starting… HERE. Surprise! *snicker snicker* Oh! Oh! I got one! You think you’re in the farthest right lane but as you turn a corner… BAM! 4 more lanes! *Muahahaha* What’s that? You were in the right lane because your exit was coming up? Welp, ya better get to navigating through those lanes of non-stop traffic because youuuuu just missed your exit.*tee hee* Better luck next time! Oh and PAY ATTENTION YOUR LANE IS ENDING! *HAHAHAHA*

I don’t like those guys. They probably drive pick-up trucks. Big black shiny pick-up trucks.

The final frustration (but not the only one remaining): Turn signals and brake lights. Potayto Potahto? NOPE. More like apples and pants. They were never designed to replace/ substitute the other.

I’ve lost count of the number of times the following scenario has taken place:

Rachel: *singing* “TALE AS OLD AS TIIIIIIME! TRUE AS IT CAN BEEE!!”

Car in front of Rachel: Brake lights.

Rachel: *Slowing down* “BARELY EVEN FRIIIIEEENDS! THEN SOMEBODY BEEEN..” *SLAMS ON BRAKES*

Car in front of Rachel: Totally stopped. Not moving. Not moving. TURNING! *cue turn signal*

Rachel: *NOT singing* “A^(@&B$GY#^(&$Y@(*! Sigh. I’m sorry God. I’m a work in progress… but C’MON!!”

Think I’m wrong about this? Then I dare you to start wearing apples and eating pants. And feel free to leave TX.

I realize these aren’t really “confessions” as much as they’re “complaints” so here’s my confession:

Traffic brings out the ugly in me.

Y’all come back and see us now, ya hear?

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2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Lonestar Commuter: One Civic on a Truck-eat-Truck highway

  1. I cannot wait to visit you guys and have you drive me around! Skydiving, white-water rafting, globe-riding? Pssshhh- it’s going to be the craziest thing I’ve done yet!!!

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