The Daily Crap That Is Life In The Bayou City
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I've lived in Houston since 1975, and because of that, came to accept certain conditions as the norm. For instance, blazing 9-month summers, schizophrenic weather, horrible road conditions, drivers who will literally try to kill you, and humidity that requires you to change clothes two to three times daily were what I came to expect of everyday life. I visited other cities over the years, and came to realize just how much crap I put up with here in Houston. Over the decades, the quality of life and weather has gone down the toilet, kicked off by the environmental devastation wrought by the city's factories and the indifference to it by those who came before us. I have zero loyalty to a town that deserves none.
Of all the major cities in the U.S., Houston is VERY cheap to live in. You can get a decked out, almost-a-mansion estate for under $200,000--and that's with a lot of yard space. You'll have plenty of room to start a family, have pets, and enjoy your house.
The food is also good. Houston is a restaurant town, where you can sample some of the best food from various cultures in all price ranges. Due to the proximity to the U.S.-Mexican border, there are probably more Mexican eateries than those of other nationalities, so do everyone a favor and pick up some Gas-X on the way there.
Are you sitting down? Good.
Pollution: Yes, Houston among the smoggiest cities in the United States--it is littered with factories and the Port of Houston, where ships come from all over the world. It doesn't help that there are smoking cars all over the city, thanks to emissions inspectors who regularly take bribes to keep Houstonians' deathrides rolling. How long will it be before you, your spouse, kids and pets are all suffering from lung disease? I came back from half a year in San Diego, and soon contracted numerous respiratory ailments.
Weather: I truly believe the pollution has helped destroy the ozone layer directly over Texas, making for seriously blazing temperatures almost all year round. Summer (from, say, April to October) is the worst, since the humidity makes you sweat buckets and risk dehydration. Many died from just that in the heat of 1999. The weather can also change from one minute to the next, quickly making your wardrobe selection completely inappropriate.
Infrastructure: Houston is always under construction. Here's the worst part: you have to have a car to get around this sprawling town, but the potholes, bad drivers (and parkers) will scratch it up anyway, and bumps will quickly depreciate your vehicle. And it's guaranteed that you will splash through a mud puddle and then drive through a haze of dirt, making you wonder why you even wash your car at all. Your suspension will be subjected to serious damage, and your wallet will notice. Be prepared to change your tires frequently, thanks to the nails and glass that I believe are mandated by the city to be mixed into the concrete that make up the roads (that's sarcasm, obviously).
Houstonians: Southern courtesy? Where? In addition to the KKK and Dixie-flag-emblazoned monster trucks with gun racks that cruise around town (the sad part is that I'm not even exaggerating!), Houstonians have no clue about treating another human being with respect--ESPECIALLY when they get behind the wheel. And if I see another sticker of Calvin urinating, or more naked ladies on mudflaps or car windows, it'll be too soon. (My tirade begins now.) If you're renting a car, you'd better get insurance on it, because you're guaranteed that it will be dented, dinged, scratched, and keyed before you return it.
Do you have a new car? Watch it depreciate before your eyes as you run into large strips of shredded tires, glass, concrete blocks, furniture, ladders, roadkill, and even the occasional person standing in the road. And by the way, a favorite pasttime of Houstonians is tying up traffic for hours on end to look at the latest gory accident on the side of the road. Nice.
You're better off not driving in Houston unless you've got a Sherman Tank, because Houstonians will swerve at you, cut you off and slam on the brakes, try to run you off the road or into a pole, run a red light and kill you, or even threaten you with a firearm at the drop of a hat. And this is every day. The behavior, not helped by the horrible weather, is infectious to the point that new teenage drivers quickly learn that all the rules they've learned in Driver's Ed do not apply: turning left from the right lane is fine, blocking intersections is fine, stopping in the middle of the street to get your bearings is fine, and even going in reverse on the freeway to catch that exit you just passed up is fine. Pure insanity.
It doesn't matter how clean your house is in Houston, because the humidity will make your yard a haven for roaches. And we're talking 2- to 3-inch-long ones that fly. And eventually, they'll squeeze in the crevices in your house, and you'll curse when you stick your foot in your shoes and feel a 3-incher squirming around in it. Disgusting. And the best part? You can visit them while shopping at your local Best Buy or even when dining at "fine" restaurants.
Then you've got possums and other rodents who love to lay droppings, walk around on busy streets (especially in the southeast part of town), and generally scare the hell out anybody unfortunate enough to want to walk down the street.
I wish I could tell you that Houston is a great place to live, but I'd be lying. Home should be a place where you can escape from the stresses of life, but in Houston, your home is overshadowed by all the negatives above. I wouldn't be surprised if Houstonians contract respiratory problems by the thousands after decades of exposure to toxins and pollutants. Your blood pressure will rise just having to deal with them on the road. Don't say I didn't warn you!
"God-forsaken" comes to mind when thinking of Houston. Take it from a longtime resident: God will give you all the signs you need to leave. Your car will be shot to hell. You might be shot dead. You will have lungs worse than a chain smoker's when you wheeze your last breath. And if you stay long enough, you'll be assimilated into the narrowminded Houstonian mindset, believing that risking the lives of those around you so you can get to work one minute faster is actually worth it. There is no quality to the life in this hole.
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