My moving thoughts of traffic jams

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I’m again helping a family member move. Yes, the old man gets called on routinely by the young ones during such times.

This time, though, it’s different. I’m stuck in traffic in Houston on a Friday afternoon in the middle of rush hour. I am tightly grasping the steering wheel. Anyone can tell that I am out of my element.

I don’t drive in rush hour that often, even avoiding times when school lets out.

It’s bumper-to-bumper as long as the eye can see. I’ll never get out of here, I’m thinking out-loud. We are stuck forever. At least until the jam clears up, and then we’re on our way. But it seems like forever.

This one is mild compared to the ones I have been in in Europe. They know how to put on a mega traffic jam just about any time.

The whole time I was stuck there, I could not help but agonize about how much of that precious $10-per-gallon gas I was pumping through the tailpipe without making an inch of progress.

Now, I am sitting in the middle of Loop 610. I could put the car in park. It wouldn’t make any difference.

I do recall that is exactly what I did at times when evacuating from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and I didn’t even go into Houston.

That was the mother of traffic jams, created when everybody was told to evacuate at the same time, and authorities closed down the usual routes and directed all the traffic through Houston.

I drove my RV through a DPS barricade and headed west. The cars behind me that followed owe me to this day. I saved them from getting into one of the worst traffic jams in history. Yes, I was driving that RV that you saw pushing the barricade aside.

There was still a lot of traffic until we got on I-10. After that it was pretty routine driving, until that huge wild boar standing in the middle of the road got hit by my RV.

The barricade was easy to shove aside. The boar tore up the bottom left side of the RV. It looked ghetto when I pulled into the RV park until I patched it up with some duct tape.

Then it looked good -- nice and silver. Duct tape fixes just about anything.

Amazing how such memories pop up while the moving truck is parked in the middle of 610.

We’re finally moving. A couple on a motorcycle pulls up next to me. They are saying something and pointing to the back of the truck.

I’m thinking they are saying that there is something wrong. Did I push the latch all the way down when I closed it?

Nervous time. I am imagining the roll-down door wide open, and the stuff just flying out on the road.
I have to get off the highway.

A guy in a car on the other side rolls his window down and tells me that my back door is open.
But I am stuck in the middle lane with cars all around.

Something special begins to happen that I didn’t expect. In the middle of rush hour in the busiest part of Houston, the cars around me make it possible to change lanes and exit. They wave at me to go on.

I make it to a side road and finally am able to inspect the door. It crept up about a foot, and nothing fell out. Nervous time is over.

I do appreciate all those drivers who helped me out, just like the dozens of drivers in 2005 probably appreciated it when I opened a passage way to the west. We don’t know each other and will never meet, but we have that special bond.

Th old man is done moving, though - for now.