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Houston, Do You Have A Problem?

September 17, 2014

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I’m going to try to not make this a bashing blog — but everyone has to blow their top off once in a while.

So I can count this past Labor Day Weekend as one I spent outside of Atlanta, but for good reason! My cousin was playing his first game as a wide-receiver for the Wisconsin Badgers.  Turns out, their first game was against LSU in Houston, Texas.  Initially, I was excited because I had never even been to Texas, but have heard nothing but good things minus Rick Perry. After landing, I Ubered to my hostel in the always fabulous Montrose neighborhood, and upon first sight of riding I see….land. Lots of land. Not developed and I would even say well-kept. I start wondering if we were in Florida because it seemed like it.  I also noted their elaborate freeway system.  The HOV lanes were barricaded in the middle of the general purpose lanes and they had their own exits and toll displays between exits. TAKE NOTES, SRTA.

I also noticed random skyscrapers just anywhere, which brought to my attention their lack of zoning.  Chuckling, I immediately think of Buckhead, but let’s not blow the cap off of this pot just yet. Settling in, I walk around Montrose and notice that almost every multistory condo and mid-rise was gated. Even the single-family homes and duplexes. They even went to the trouble to fortify the carport. For why??? Maybe it’s because there were few streets with sidewalks and everyone considers unlocked property public property. Who knows?

So then, I wander off to find a three-day METRO pass for the bus and light rail.  This is where the trip went South. Literally. METRO, Houston’s Transit Authority, advertise that these passes can be purchased in various stores and convenience marts all over town.  It took me SIX STORES which I walked to all of them, until I came to a grocery store that didn’t make an excuse that the METRO was lying, or that the machines were down, or that they didn’t have a three-day pass.  As usual, METRO’s customer service was low on the assistance totem pole. Strike One.

The next day, I actually used the pass, but with a twist. It rained. And guess where I had to stand to wait for the bus?

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(sigh) Only one creep managed to drive into the puddle, though. That’s a highlight in Atlanta.

So I take this bus, which showed up twenty minutes late, to the Third Ward in search of a recommended chicken place that will be unnamed. It was terrible and not worth the return trip south of town because another bus showed up on time (for once) and me being a smart individual, thought that any bus emptied into a rail station.  The bus driver couldn’t recognize my frustrations clearly when she explains that I couldn’t ride the bus for fun. I have to pay extra. For what, ma’am? I arrived at the Galleria two and a half hours later. Strike Two.

Day three consisted of bike share and figuring out where this blasted light rail line went.  I kept wondering how does a city the size of Houston (which the city alone has over 2 million residents ranked fourth in America) have only ONE RAIL LINE???! It went straight up from the NRG Stadium through the Medical District, Downtown, across the river, through neighborhoods to a strip mall. I find out that there were two in construction, but if they’re anything like our streetcar, we’re dying to see a vehicle on them. I wondered through Downtown trying to find happiness, but it couldn’t be found on Labor Day. The one thing I really wanted to see was the underground tunnels that Houston kept active over the years with entrances to the offices and condos. All entrances closed. Offices look like they’re open for business, though. Strike three. I’m out.

Soooo, I don’t really know what to make of all this. It seemed the best thing about Houston was the Munchie Meal at Jack In the Box. If there’s a petition to bring that to Georgia, I will gladly sign it. A guy told me that Houston was basically a place where people come to make money. Plain and simple. That made since. NASA, Oil, low cost of living. I’ll try Dallas next time.

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