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A Guide to Driving in Houston
And now, thirty-six tips for driving in Houston. Enjoy!
One. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Houston has its own version of traffic rules. Never forget that downtown Houston is composed entirely of one way streets. The only way to get out of center of town is to turn around and start over when you get to Dallas.
Two. Nearly all directions start with, "Go down Westheimer..."
Three. Westheimer Road has no beginning and no end.
Four. It's impossible to go around a block and wind up on the street from which you originally started. The Houston Chamber of Commerce calls this a "scenic drive."
Five. The 8am rush hour is from 6:30 to 9:30am. The 5:00pm rush hour is from 3:30 to 6:30pm. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday evening.
Six. If you actually stop at a yellow light, it's obvious that you're not from around here.
Seven. Yes, reversible, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are a complete waste of money, and no, the rules for their use are not completely understood by anyone.
Eight. Kuykendahl Road can only be pronounced by a native, so do not attempt the phonetic pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you.
Nine. The falling of two rain drops or one snowflake causes all traffic to immediately cease; so will daylight savings time, a girl applying eye shadow across the street, or someone with a flat tire three lanes over.
Ten. Construction on the Gulf Freeway is a way of life, and a permanent form of entertainment. Accept it. Live it. Love it.
Eleven. Many bizarre sights can be explained simply by uttering the phrase, "Ok, we must be in Montrose!!"
Twelve. Construction crews aren't doing their job properly unless they close down all lanes except one during rush hour.
Thirteen. If someone actually has their turn signal on, you can reasonably and safely ignore it. The driver is probably just an Aggie trying to tune the radio, turn on the wipers, or talk on the cell phone.
Fourteen. Understand that the 95 pound lady driving the Ford Excursion (the largest vehicle ever produced) absolutely MUST come to a complete stop, then proceed at 2.5 mph over any railroad track. What's the deal? This vehicle was built to invade small countries, and she's worried about the railroad tracks!!! Give her plenty of room.
Fifteen. All ladies with blue hair who drive Cadillacs or Lincoln Continentals have the right of way, all the time.
Sixteen. The above mentioned blue haired ladies also have a legal right to turn right from a left lane or to turn left from a right lane. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Seventeen. White haired men driving red or silver sports cars will not obey any known traffic rules or laws and cannot be expected to stop for red lights or stop signs. These fellows are enjoying either a divorce finalization or their second childhood. Leave them be.
Eighteen. If on the road you happen across a pickup truck with a weaponry stowed in the highly visible gun rack, show some respect by yielding the right of way.
Nineteen. Buying a Houston street map is a waste of money since there is absolutely no way that you can route yourself in such a manner as to avoid major road construction. Road construction is a way of life. Live it. Love it. Accept it.
Twenty. Buying a Houston street map is a waste of money since the termination or continuation of any street is entirely at the discretion of the Streets Department of the City. It has been determined that the length of any street on any given day is a mystery known only to "Higher Powers" in the department, and it is rumored that they do not speak to mere mortals.
Twenty-one. Asking directions will be no help at all for finding the address you seek. But, it will help acquainted you with the numerous residents of an amazing ethnic diversity.
Twenty-three. Native Houstonians are so rare that they are listed on the endangered species list. The few remaining specimens (Hey, I'm one! - Chris) are kept in a controlled environment for their own safety.
"Sir" and Ma'am" are used by the person speaking to you if there's a remote possibility that you're at least 30 minutes older than they
are. You can safely address anyone as "Sir" or "Ma'am" in Houston as in other southern cities.
Twenty-five. "Sugar" is a more common form of address than "Miss." So is "Honey." Please don't take offense. This is how southerners address adult women.
Twenty-six. In Houston, we drink Coca Cola and Dr. Pepper. It is rumored that other soft drinks are sold here, but no one will admit to knowing anyone who actually drinks them. So, stick with these.
Twenty-seven. Critical information for anyone arriving to Houston at Bush Intercontinental Airport: Your arrival gate is at least 32 miles away from the Concourse of any terminal. Walking heels on your boots or walking shoes are advised.
Twenty-eight. Wherever you are going will be on the other side of town. When attempting to cross Houston, assume the trip will take a minimum of one hour and a possible delay of up to another two to three hours.
Twenty-nine. Houston is large, nearly 50 miles north to south and west to east. New residents are advised to accept the fact that you will drive 20K to 30K miles per year. Unfortunately, Houston auto dealers still believe that any more than 12K miles per annum is excessive.
Thirty. If attempting to cross Houston via the freeway system, it is advisable to carry a supply of Coca Cola, water, a few sandwiches, and something to read while waiting on the freeway for the traffic jam to clear. It is common knowledge that some moderately fast readers have been known to completely read a 1,000 page novel during the course of one traffic jam. If attempting to cross Houston during rush hour, additional provisions are advisable.
Thirty-one. Never get on a Houston freeway without first taking a restroom break! It may be a long time to the next break.
Thirty-two. Never honk your horn at another car in Houston traffic. The bumper sticker that reads, "Keep honking, I'm reloading" is considered fair and legal warning.
Thirty-three. Just because you can drive on snow and ice does not mean we can. Stay home the two days of the year it snows.
Thirty-four. If you do run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in the cab of a four-wheel drive with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them. Just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.
Thirty-five. If you are yelling at the person driving 15 mph in a 55 mph zone, directly in the middle of the road, remember, many folks learned to drive on a model of vehicle known as John Deere, and this is the proper speed and lane position for that vehicle.
Thirty-six. The value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door, but the availability of shade.
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