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The Belly of the Beast


I drove for a living for years — Across the country, border to border and it never phased me. Before I turned in the Corporate Suit, I commuted 120 miles per day across Dallas; no sweat.

My plan today was to fall off down toward that Houston and stay the night with my parents on the east side of town; it is Mother’s Day and all. I checked my Mapquest route and the Tom Tom GPS and both gave the most direct route as right through H-town. Oh well, no biggie.

South on 6 out of Navasota, I just could not bear the thought of running the multi lane all the way down to the 10 and cut east on a Farm to Market — Let the Tom Tom figure it out. I hit I45 around The Woodlands and immediately felt a little off my game. Houston is a big ass place – the 4th largest city in the country they say- and the traffic is always heavy– even on a Saturday afternoon.

Houston Traffic

So what is going on with that? It was definitely discomfiting. Then it dawned on me– you spend enough time out in Rural Texas and this motorized metro melee seems as foreign as driving on Mars.

Now I am not saying the Houstonites were rude or careless or unnecessarily reckless. I was just not prepared to swim in their shark tank today. My bad. I have functioned in this environment countless times but today the whole picture just seemed callous and cold. The signs along the roadway warning that “Disabled cars would be towed” struck me as heartless and the Rent and Roll tire shops made me turn my head. You can rent those tires and rims??? Those big Slabs?  WTF?  I had to stop at a C store to pick up a Code Red Mountain Dew to even begin to deal with this. Caffeine in copious quantities was the only thing that could save me.

Holding the door for a woman leaving, our eyes met and I said “Howdy” — a momentary up and down glance and the rube in Wranglers and Stetson straw hat was summarily dismissed. The guy behind the counter sorta dumped the change from the Fiver into my outstretched hand.. I hate that. I guess the Big City Way is to keep your personal space all safe and secure.

Back out into the packed parking lot, I noticed how the Suburban stuck out like a sore thumb. None of the other vehicles had the fine powder coating of dust that only a gravel road can apply. None of the other vehicles had that skiff of mud on the fender behind each wheel that you get when you plow through the soft spots in the

The '04 Suburban

road. I guess if I had been a kid’s wooden puzzle where you pair up the taxi with the taxi driver and the ship with the Captain, it would have been easy enough to pair up the Country Boy with his Texas Cadillac as he exited the store.

Back out into the melee, I was unnerved by the jockeying of the

Country Boy in the City

traffic. Back and forth, side to side with seeming inches of clearance, I was thankful to be in a substantial vehicle. I figured if we had the Big One out here on the 610 like they have at Talledega or Daytona, I could take out maybe 2 of those sissy city boy Lexus SUVs or 3 of those wannabe pickups or at least 7 of those annoying little Hondas before they got me. Made me feel better. Especially disconcerting were the lane changes. They would start from one side and swoop diagonally across 4 or 5 lanes of traffic like the car had a Star Trek force field around it. Made me pucker up tight just to watch it and this from a guy who has driven 100 miles on a Texas State Highway and averaged 145mph.

I have been out of the Corporate Grind for 8-10 years now and today, TODAY, was the first day I ever felt like that life was completely dead and gone.  There is now way on God’s Green Earth I could  be a cubicle dweller ever again.  Just ain’t happening.

END NOTE: Big City Blues by Charlie Robison from the Good Times album.  It fits.

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