The Texas Trifecta Part I: Driving
In my 23 years of life, I have called all three major Texas cities home.
First Austin, where I was born and raised, then Houston, and now Dallas.
I've loved getting to know Dallas, and I intended to share my observations here, but I hadn't been able to settle on a good way to go about it. Explaining a city, especially as you get to know it, is a muddy task — where to start, and what to say, and how to say it?
I noticed, finally, that in every conversation I've had about Dallas so far, I've had to compare/contrast it to its other Texas counterparts in order to accurately describe it. After all, each city has a unique personality, and I appreciate them all; but they're hard to convey to others who haven’t experienced them without bringing the city they do know in as a reference of some type.
So, in true Rush family form, I tossed the idea of just telling you guys about Dallas and decided that I’m going to try and let you get to know all three major Texas cities better by pitting them against each other in theoretical competition.
Sound fun?! I thought so, too. Let’s start now.
First up: driving. Because it's the number one topic that comes up with Dallas residents when they hear I’ve been living in Houston for the past year.
Dallas people talk about Houston as if it is the third world, where you get in a vehicle and kind of step on the gas and close your eyes and hope you arrive in one piece. (Dallas people talk about Houston as if it is the third world in lots of contexts, actually. We'll address this complex at a later time.)
I, on the other hand, am from Austin. We just drove like pretty low-key, normal people when I was growing up there, and by the time I moved back after college so many people had overrun the place that now no one drives at all, everyone just sits on the roads and moves a foot or so collectively every few hours.
This makes me a neutral third-party driver in the Houston vs. Dallas driving debate, so I can say with authority that Dallas is actually a way worse place to drive.
Houston drivers are reckless. Everyone is just kind of hurtling down interstates at the highest speed they can handle. It’s the only place I know of where policemen regularly tailgate cars going 10 mph over the speed limit because they aren’t going fast enough; and even when you want to get annoyed at someone flying by you in the left lane, you can’t help being like, dang, I respect your ballsy indifference to death. Add to that equation at least three lanes — usually more — to jump around to at any given moment, and it’s like a very, very high-stakes game of Frogger. It’s fun!
Driving in Dallas is not fun, because Dallas drivers are aggressive. And aggressive is much more stressful than reckless.
Dallas drivers are driving at less deadly speeds, but they are against you. Unlike Houston, where we are all hurtling together, Dallas has decided we are all hurtling individually, and it is every car for itself. There is no respect or camaraderie. I get the feeling that everyone is channeling a lot of upper middle class angst into their commute — like, sorry Johnny only made JV football and your manicure is chipped, but can you let me merge? That sort of thing.
It doesn’t help that Dallas roadways also take the L in signage.
If I’m approaching a major tangle of roads in Houston, there are multiple, enormous signs forewarning me. The signs will say the names of these roads. The signs will say how far I am from these roads. The signs will have large arrows pointing down to each individual lane, indicating which lane takes you to which road. The actual lanes will have, painted on them, the names of the roads to which they are taking you. And just in case, they usually leave you that bail-option lane where you can go either way right up until the very last minute if you're still not sure.
You literally cannot get on the wrong interstate in Houston, unless you are me, in which case you can, because I am just that good. I send whoever it is that plans out these traffic things in Houston to bed weeping, wondering if they will have to just get in the driver’s seat of my vehicle and steer me onto the correct interstate themselves. (The answer is yes.)
Dallas, on the other hand, is like, LOL, SURPRISE YOU’RE ON A FLYOVER GOING 90 DEGREES IN THE WRONG DIRECTION NOW! YOU WERE REALLY INTO THAT SONG, HUH? HOPE YOU DON’T MIND REROUTING BECAUSE WE BOTH KNOW JOHNNY’S MOM WON’T LET YOU BACK IN.
The joke's on you, though, Dallas, because I can get lost anywhere! I build in extra time for missing and/or taking wrong turns to begin with! You don’t stress me out! You ain’t special!
And as for actual traffic, I’m still giving Houston the edge simply because the aforementioned abundance of lanes means things generally keep moving pretty quickly even if we’re all bumper-to-bumper. Dallas is so big that it does a pretty good job of that, too, though, so I’d say they’re comparable. Honestly, pretty sure Austin just set the bar so, so low that any situation in which I’m actually progressing forward seems okay to me. Thanks, overwhelmed infrastructure!
In conclusion, I give you:
TEXAS TRIFECTA RANKINGS BY DRIVING:
We will resume competition next week.