Sunday, March 20, 2011

When the Rodeo Meets Rush Hour

by Leann Sweeney

There are many advantages to living close to one of the largest cities in the country. Events, restaurants, sports teams, the arts, big libraries, wonderful medical care. The list could go on and on. In my younger days, I took advantage of so many of these things in Houston. But I don't get out that much any more. They don't mean as much now.

One thing I hardly miss, however, is my weekly writer's group. Those people have made me a better writer and I hope, with their help I will continue to grow. But, the meeting is at 6 PM and it takes me 45 minutes to get there traveling on 4 different major highways. 45 minutes on a good day. For the most part I manage the traffic pretty well, but this past week I met up with freeway hell.

Kiss, the rock group, not the good kind of kiss, was playing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Reliant Stadium (the stadium that replaced the Astrodome). Yup. I wondered the same thing. Why Kiss at a rodeo? Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, yes. But Kiss? I don't have an answer except they apparently still have plenty of fans. And I believe all 80,000 of them were on the freeway at the same time that I was last Tuesday.

My problem became apparent when it was far too late to turn around and go home. I was stuck in a five lane parking lot. There really is no way to get to the southwest side of Houston without hitting that traffic--or without hitting the traffic made up of people going home from their downtown jobs in the opposite direction. Those cars were also stopped dead.

I ended up adding an extra hour to my trip along with frazzled nerves and an upset stomach. Some folks don't handle traffic like that with the patience required. They like to drive on the shoulder, cut people off and make everyone else more tense than they already are. I arrived at my meeting wondering how awful the trip home would be. I got lucky. The Kiss concert must have still been going on. Kiss? Really?

How about you? Do you commute? Live in the country to avoid problems like this? Or is it no big deal to find yourself sitting in traffic with nothing to do but inch along? All I can say is, I will NEVER leave home without an audio book in my car again.