Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Recipe for Disaster

Friday + nonstop rain + rush hour = recipe for disaster. One would thought that the equation applies only in Jakarta, but no Sir. The Lone Star state has Houston to handle that equation.

The one thing I noticed instantly after arriving in Houston was the fact that a lot of people drove trucks. Big trucks. I thought they were just being true to the motto "everything is bigger in Texas". Those cars cost a lot of money on gas, right? Not to mention that they are just not handy in tight parking spaces (that's a Jakartan's point of view). Anyway, yesterday, I found out one of the reasons why they like their cars big and strong; Houston gets flooded. Big time.

Yesterday was a Friday and my brother-in-law had to fly home to Jakarta on a 5.40 PM flight, so we had to arrive at the airport at 3.30 PM. Husband calculated the time needed to get there with two stops before airport; Sinh Sinh the Chinese restaurant in Bellaire and a Harley Davidson store just on the side on N Loop Freeway (my father-in-law wanted to give his friend a Harley Davidson t-shirt from Houston), and came to a conclusion that we needed to leave the house at precisely 1 PM. That would gave us time to do lunch and a little shopping. Well at least that was we thought.

It had been raining for probably 12 straight hours when we finally left the house. It had escalated into a thunder storm actually. It was pouring heavily and people were taking the cautious step by driving a lot slower, which was a wise thing to do since we barely had a decent driving vision. My husband handed me the GPS and asked me to navigate him to the Harley Davidson store. We eliminated Sinh Sinh after seeing the rain got even heavier. I'm not the greatest navigator, I'll tell you that. I made a lot of mistake and usually put husband in a stressful mode. Thus, making the journey a real tense one, because I would get offended also. Funny how I get offended when I know that I'm bad at it, huh? Haha.

I put the store's address after checking and re-checking it on the website that my husband showed me. What usually happens is that I put the wrong address. I don't know how I always manage to do that. So yesterday I was being extra extra careful to put the right address. We were already on Beltway 8 and the GPS told us to take I-45 and then I-610. Exit the freeway and we would meet the N Loop Freeway which was where the store supposed to be located. The thing about Houston is that the city has a lot of Freeways. They go east-west, north-south, inner loop, outer loop, crosstown, etc. I still find it hard to determine which one is which.

The minute we entered I-610 we noticed that the feeder roads (roads next to the freeway) were flooded. People were stopping or trying hard to go through it, making the exits also jammed. We had to get out of the freeway too and had to meet the flood eventually. The (not-so) funny thing was we couldn't find the damn store. The GPS pointed out the exact location, but there was no sign of the store. It was still raining heavily and every road we took was flooded. I knew that husband would blew up sooner than later, so I called the store and asked for direction. You know what the first thing the store attendant said to me? "Oh yes, that's the wrong address that we got on our website. You should make a left and then... bla bla bla..," she said. I couldn't even hear what she said next. It's pure moronic to put the wrong address of your place of business and not change it. Blasphemy filled our car. We decided to cancel the Harley Davidson store.

Luckily there was a number of ways to get to the airport. The google maps and its "show traffic" menu were huge help. We found the least crowded freeway and got to the airport on time. That was a big relief, even though there were more flooded roads we had to go through. I was praying hard for our car to stay solid during those scary times. The rain finally stopped later in the night, around 9 or 10 PM.  

Houston felt a bit like Jakarta yesterday. Funny. Well, now it's funny.