Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Houston, We Have a Problem...

(Haven did not make the journey with her Mom--that's why she's smiling)

Chris and I just returned from Houston (that's in the great state of Texas, just in case you didn't know). His youngest bro got married on Saturday. I haven't been to Houston since I was about 12 years old. And, I think I have the potential to like it had a few things been different:

1. the Tropical Storm that I flew into would not have delayed my flight, my luggage arriving, or my dinner plans
2. my cab driver would be gainfully employed in a different line of work

Chris and everyone else were rehearsing for the wedding when my flight was supposed to arrive. I was only about 15 minutes later than originally planned, but then the airport called in all the baggage handlers from the tarmac because of lightening. I waited. And, waited. And waited for my bag. As I was giving up, calling Chris to tell him that he would have to bring me back for my luggage, I saw my soaked bag making it's way around the chute. About this time my stupid (stupid) cell phone decided that it'd been useful long enough and started dying.

I found a cab, handed him the address to the restaurant I was (planning on) going to, and hopped in with my wet bag. There were a couple signs right off that perhaps my choice of cabby had been unwise:

1. As soon as I handed him the address, he told me at least 20 times that that area was always flooded. Seriously. He said, "always flooded." Over and over until I just ignored him. I mean, how many new and unique responses can you have after 20 times? I ran out at 2 times and let him monologue for the rest as I watched the rain coming down out the window. Sure, it was raining alot, but it didn't look that bad.
2. The meter on his cab didn't work, he didn't turn the air conditioner on and it was muggy (it's Houston, for goodness sake), and, this is important...even though he had emphasized strongly how the area I was going to was flooded, he didn't take a different street. I might also add that I knew Chris and everyone else had made it to the restaurant.

We made it to within 5 or so miles of my destination. Mr. Cabby took an exit ramp off the freeway where it made a dip down and under a bridge. I beheld the "always flooded" area he was speaking of. We were at a standstill, bumper to bumper traffic, watching some cars attempt to go through the flood as others who were too chicken (that would be my cabby) commented about how much it would cost if the car flooded (again, that would be my cabby).

By this time, my cell phone was beeping to tell me that it would be powering down permanently, I only had the address to the restaurant--not the address where we were staying, the rehearsal dinner was on in full swing, and the cabby informed me that it would take hours before the flooding receded enough for us to drive through.

Here is one thing you should know about me: I don't sit well. I will make a rash decision if it means that I don't have to sit and watch everyone else do what I want to do...that means driving through feet of water so I can go eat. Since we were essentially stuck, Mr. Cabby decided that he'd grab an umbrella and go check out the situation. As I watched helplessly as car after car attempted to get through. One stalled out, but many more made it. I went through my battle plan: I could flag down a truck and ask him to take me through and drop me off at the next street (we were still on the freeway, and I didn't know where I was, but I figured I had one or two calls left in my phone before it blinked out on me forever). I could take off my sandals and wade through the water and walk for a bit and hopefully arrive at a major street.

Before I could act on my plan, I grabbed an umbrella and stood outside watching as traffic backed up more and more and less people decided to attempt driving through the flood. Then Mr. Cabby came back, motioned for me to get back in, and started backing up. I was pretty excited. He, a skinny little dude that had been parked behind us, and a small little blond woman had convinced about 25 cars to back up one by one so we could maneuver off the exit ramp and back onto the freeway which was still moving. I wanted to get out and kiss that blond woman. Her car was still parked ahead of us, and she was out in the rain without an umbrella helping other drivers move out into traffic going the wrong way.

We made it to another exit ramp and more toward the direction I had planned on when we saw cop cars and more flooding. At this point the Cabby kind of broke down. He started saying that the ride was going to cost me $200, that he couldn't get me to the restaurant, blah blah blah. I was losing my patience with him and wondering why, if we were downtown, he couldn't just drive around until he found a through street. I asked him if there was a hotel in the area he could drop me off at and I'd have someone else come get me. I was finished with him. Plus, I felt pretty lucky. I'd envisioned spending the night with him in that muggy cab when he told me it would be hours before we were out.

He dropped me off at a Doubletree, I got one last phone call in to Chris before my stupid (stupid) cell died, and then I hightailed it to the hotel bar and ordered a gin and tonic. Chris arrived 5 minutes later to fetch me (somehow he made it!). A lovely dinner, two glasses of wine later, and without Mr. Cabby, I was prepared to enjoy Houston.

1 comment:

Sarah Taylor said...

Wow. WOW! What a crazy mess. I feel bad, but I'm glad it was you instead of me. I think I probably would have just sat on the (flooded) sidewalk in the rain and cried! I do feel a tad bit sorry for the cab driver. He has no idea how much of a life and death situation he was in - sounds like The Wrath of Jane was darn close to pouring out...with the low blood sugar and all. I'm so glad that everything worked out well in the end. And, I'd say this is could even work to your advantage. After all, Chris, don't you think an iPhone is a small price to pay to help ensure your wife's safety?