A couple weeks after we moved from California to Texas, we went to the local Saturday farmer’s market. Jamie was paying for something at one vendor’s booth when he looked up from his folding chair and said, “I’m guessin’ you ain’t from Texas.”
“We just moved here three weeks ago,” Jamie replied.
”Did you buy a gun yet?” the vendor asked.
”No,” Jamie answered.
The woman behind us in line overheard this conversation and butted in to say, “Slackers.”
Yes, guns are legal in Texas and so is open carry. Which means that every once in a while you see some yahoo walking down the street with a handgun strapped to his hip like he’s on the way to the OK Corral. But it’s not the guns nor the gunmen who scare me. They actually make me feel a bit safer.
No, what scares the hell out of me are the other deadly weapons that Texans handle with complete disregard to their own safety and that of those around them.
A great radio commercial for the motocross races at the old Ontario Motor Speedway said, “There’s only one rule in motocross. (PAUSE) And nobody knows what it is.”
That same philosophy clearly covers the macadam here in the Lone Star State. We’ve lived here almost eight years and have only figured out two ironclad rules:
- No matter how fast you drive, someone will tailgate you.
- No matter how closely you tailgate, someone will cut in between you and the car in front of you.
I’d love to attribute this insane behavior to overly testerone-fueled macho men in ten gallon hats, but that would be inaccurate. In reality, it is every man, woman, and member of the other seventy-four new genders for himself or herself or xyrself out here. Even eighteen wheelers swerve in and out of traffic and tailgate like they’re Formula One cars drafting at Monaco. And they’re not restricted to the right two lanes as they are in California.
About the same time we went to that farmer’s market, we also made a visit to the local office of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Department. We asked for a copy of the rules so we could study for our drivers license tests. The woman behind the counter seemed confused by my request. “You know,” I said, “the pamphlet that explains all the laws and rules.”
She was baffled.
“There’s no pamphlet,” she insisted.
”Then how can we study for the test,” I asked.
“There is no test. If you have a drivers license from another state, we’ll replace it with a new one from Texas. It’s good for ten years and we’ll extend it for another ten years as long as you apply before the first one expires.”
That may explain this stat I pulled off the internet: “The most dangerous city in the United States in which to drive is Dallas, with a collision likelihood of 46.5% above average. There are 14 fatal accidents for each 100,000 people, and 42% of those involve a drunk driver.”
Most people must be shocked the first time they cross the border from New Mexico into Texas and see that the speed limit has suddenly jumped to 85 mph. And if the speed limit is 85, most of the drivers are probably pegging the speedometer at 100 miles per hour or more out there between El Paso and Del Rio. But no matter how fast they’re driving, someone else is undoubtedly following them close enough to read the small print on their bumper stickers.
When we decided to leave California, a dear friend volunteered to get a U-Haul truck and move all our worldly possessions halfway across the country to Texas. The first 99% of his drive was uneventful, but he was pulled over by a state traffic officer as soon as he reached the outskirts of Dallas. When the officer approached the window our friend boiled over.
“These people are crazy,” he hollered. “They wouldn’t let me merge onto the freeway.”
The cop started laughing. “I can tell from your license plate that y’all aren’t from around here,” he said. Instead of giving our friend a ticket he gave him some advice: “Don’t worry about the other trucks. Just move over and they’ll get out of your way.”
Either that or they’ll pull out their guns and start shooting.