Consider this a public service announcement for visitors to the fine Bayou City: enter Houston streets at your own peril. I'm not sure what complicated evolutionary process occurred to create the strange beast known as the Houston driver. Whether driven mad by the stifling humidity, rendered non compos mentis by the stench from Pasadena on a hot day or mutated into strange abominations by the smog and mosquitoes, the local motorists have long since abandoned the fineries and etiquette that rule the actions of other people who find themselves behind the wheel of an automobile and instead turn motorways into chaotic mazes that would confuse even Pac-Man. There are, dear visitors, three rules to observe when driving through the streets of the Bayou City. I have provided them below, which, in the event that business, pleasure or insanity bring you here to our lovely metropolis, you may be better prepared for the madness that is sure to ensue. 1. Pedestrians do not have the right of way. You will not believe how many people in the city of Houston actually operate under the false assumption that motorists will recognize their right to cross a street. Pranksters have placed things called "crosswalks" and "crossing signals" on city streets to lure unsuspecting travelers into stepping off the relative safety of the sidewalk. DO NOT FALL FOR THESE TRICKS. Houston motorists lack the ability to notice such things and will blindly jut out into the street once the last car has passed. A person behind the wheel will treat you with the same reckless abandon that they treat any animal that was foolish enough to run out into the road: If I keep driving forward, eventually they'll jump out of the way. 2. Turn signals are optional. Some of you may have attended driver's ed in high school and learned that it's basic traffic etiquette to use a turn signal to let drivers behind you know you are about to brake and turn onto another road or simply change lanes. Houston drivers never learned this rule. In the high paced world of Houston driving, there's no time to be concerned for things like safety. Besides, how will Houstonians be able to hold their Starbucks cup in one hand, cell phone in the other while handling the steering wheel with their knees if they have to reach to push a lever. I mean, we have to talk about priorities here. 3. That space between you and the car in front of you isn't a safe-driving distance, it's an opportunity. Houstonians are people who are in a hurry. Where they're going remains a mystery, since this is a city primarily composed of restaurants and strip centers, but the fact remains that they can't be stopped for anything. Like, you know, people driving the speed limit. So when they need to pass you, THEY WILL PASS YOU. A Houstonian can not be inconvenienced for a single second, which means their eyes are constantly moving, constantly searching to find that one magical spot in traffic that will allow them to continue driving at their current speed for at least three more seconds. It's wrong and unfair to ever have to hit the brake pedal, so that means at the first sign of some sort of back up, it's time to take evasive action! And that 10-foot long space between cars to the right looks perfect. A quick jerk of the steering wheel to the right followed by the slamming of breaks from the car now behind you and once again all is right with the world. I trust this guide has been helpful for you. And I sincerely hope that I haven't frightened you away from visiting our fair city. It's not really that Houstonians are subhuman or anything, you just have to understand that it's a city full of people who are in a hurry to get to the next red light. –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week; firstname.lastname@example.org
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