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Drive Through Everything

by John on June 28, 2013

Texas is big…and different. My mind drifts back to Eddie Murphy’s Delirious bit when he was about to venture into Texas for the first time.

“Don’t go to Texas, man. They’ll fuck you up.”

Now Mr. Murphy may have been referring to something else, but this statement rings true for me in terms of the gigantic, enormous, monstrosities that are the cars in this state.

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Everyone drives. One person per car as far as I can see. Lanes upon lanes, highways, frontage roads next to the highways…and then my jaw drops.

“What’s that up ahead? Is that a series of buildings? Whoa, are those space-ways? Holy shit, turn back, turn back!”

Ten different highways come together at a meeting point and they all cross over each other in a reasonably tight puzzle that kind of looks like a roller-coaster, but more scary. Some of the highways are 20 stories high and when driving on the ramps it feels like you are flying. And this is all from the passenger seat, mind you. I’m taking my time before I take on these behemoths.

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Speaking of behemoths, the classic 4WD is like a newborn baby compared to the pick-up trucks I see on an hourly basis. They don’t call ‘em trucks for nada. It’s ridiculous to think why anyone would need such an eye-sore for the daily trek to work, the shops or the firing range. Back in Australia, we called them “utes.” But these things are about five times as big as the old Holden and I ain’t even lying.

So what does one do when you’re in a truck? Well it’s about three metres down, so forget about stepping out to do your errands.

Welcome to the land of “drive-thru.” Growing up in little ole Perth, the only thing that was drive-thru was the drive-in cinema. Even in recent times, fast food is all I knew about drive-thru. Here we have drive-thru pharmacies, drive-thru restaurants, drive-in restaurants, drive-thru banking, drive-thru cleaners and probably a few more I haven’t discovered yet. And if you want something a little more substantial than just a fast-food burger, most of the major restaurant chains have dedicated “to-go” counters where you can essentially drive up, hop out and grab your dinner.

drive through bank 1 Drive Through Everything I have to say, I’m not complaining about this new-found convenience. Parking can be a nightmare, especially in lots that haven’t adapted to the fact that the compact car is something of a rarity down here. But I do miss walking a little bit. It’s impossible to walk anywhere here. Even if something is just on the other side of an outdoor shopping centre, you have to transform into Frogger just to make it across the parking lot alive. And the heat is getting intense. To be certain, one thing you don’t want to do when you’re driving through everything is run out of gas…

 What do you think about America’s conveniences?

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather June 29, 2013 at 6:58 am

I’m a city girl who hates driving, so it sounds torturous. You may need to find a helicopter tour to view the highways from above. I bet the sight is actually quite impressive!

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inspiringtravellers July 1, 2013 at 6:53 am

Great idea, Heather! I would LOVE to see Houston from above…

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Erin June 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

ugh that is just like the state I grew up in – South Carolina. One person per giant car with AC on freezing, drive EVERYWHERE. Even if it’s just a block. Also, sit in your car in the parking lot and wait as long as it takes to get the closest possible parking spot.
So different from Costa Rica, where everyone walks, in stilettos. :)

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inspiringtravellers July 1, 2013 at 6:53 am

I can barely walk a long distance in regular heels, haha…that’s a talent I’d love to learn!

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Rob June 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm

haha – still laughing at that Eddie Murphy line. Nice one John.

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John July 1, 2013 at 11:43 am

This is John, here. Note to reply on previous comment: I do NOT wear heels :)

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Jemma June 29, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I think drive thrus make everyone’s life easier. But I guess one should also learn to get off the car and walk. It’s still great and healthy to have a walk sometimes.

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inspiringtravellers July 1, 2013 at 6:51 am

Houston is nice in the suburbs where there are many walking trails. There are huge parks, for example, in the energy corridor. You just have to drive to them and walk ;)

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Krista June 30, 2013 at 4:52 am

I’m chuckling heartily to myself. :-) It’s so fun to see places I’ve been through your eyes. I agree, Texas is MASSIVE in nearly every detail. :-) I didn’t mind visiting it, and living there for a brief two months, but always swore I would never, ever live there. :-)

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inspiringtravellers July 1, 2013 at 6:50 am

We are actually quite happy here. It’s a big adjustment but the conveniences make it easier to focus on other things =)

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Freya June 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I know Texas can be HUGE, but here in the US, you get used to the large sizes of everything, including food and highways ;)

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inspiringtravellers July 1, 2013 at 6:50 am

I’m quite happy about the value for money on things…especially after living in more expensive countries =)

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Tim Horgan @ On and Off the Gringo Trail July 1, 2013 at 12:35 am

Texas: a greenie’s worst nightmare

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inspiringtravellers July 1, 2013 at 6:49 am

Sad but true – I’ve seen some frightening stats!

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Shanna Schultz July 1, 2013 at 9:56 am

The rampant spread of drive through’s has its blessings and curses. It is a convenience, but it takes away the personal quality of the interaction. I never use the drive through at my bank because I would much rather go inside and have a chance to chat and have a personal interaction. It seems like American culture is more disconnected than ever from each other, and this is another symptom of the problem.

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John July 1, 2013 at 11:48 am

I must admit, the drive-thru bank is an interesting one. If you don’t park close enough, you stretch out to get your money and if a passer-by is within distance, it could be gone in a flash while you’re stuck in your seatbelt!

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Jennifer July 3, 2013 at 3:27 am

I must admit that I occasionally miss the drive-thru. There are virtually no drive thrus in Italy, aside from McDonalds and I have missed being able to just pull up to an ATM instead of getting out in the pouring rain. But overall, I think such conveniences are part of why America is such a fat nation! Get out and walk; it’s good for you.

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John July 3, 2013 at 5:59 am

Walking’s the way to go, even in the sapping humidity.

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Sophie July 4, 2013 at 1:06 am

Haven’t been in Houston, but quite a few times in Dallas and remember being stopped by the police because I was out walking and warned it was dangerous. I always thought of Dallas as being a bit like one of those spooky sci fi films where everyone lives their entire life indoors, not a soul to be seen outdoors, just cars. Felt like an alternative universe, it did.

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John July 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Walking to the mailbox is safe enough, but with the sapping heat and great distances, it’s hard to get out and about too much. All in good time :)

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Jay July 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Mhmm – I’m nodding my head at everything here. It’s a little intimidating, isn’t it? Massive things everywhere! I always miss walking when in Texas – it just seems so silly to drive across the street but the lack of sidewalks means it’s necessary. And the drive throughs… convenient yes, but I prefer stretching my legs and walking into the store ;-)

Sounds like you’re settling in though – happy to hear it!

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John July 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Thanks, Jay! It’s been a tough start, but all’s good now. Walking and fitness is definitely on the agenda in the near future.

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Jess July 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

This sounds like my reaction to Southern California – but I noticed when I visited Houston, too, that there was almost no one walking around. I think that’s the #1 reason I couldn’t live in either place.

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John July 6, 2013 at 7:23 pm

It sure is a huge city, so driving is indeed a necessary evil ;)

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Gus July 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Gooligoogoo Sanchez … do they have drive thru shooting ranges? Then you can practice your drive by’s homes

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John July 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I think it was Goonigoogoo, mister moustache!

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Ali July 11, 2013 at 3:58 am

I do occasionally miss having a car, but for the most part I love not having the stress of driving, or the expense of owning a car. Georgia, where I lived before moving to Germany, has tons of huge trucks and SUVs like what you’re seeing in Texas, and yes, drive-thru everything. Convenient yes, but a little insane sometimes.

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John July 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I’m with you, I’ve enjoyed not driving a lot for the past few years. No choice over here though, but I’m taking my time with it :0

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Sherry July 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I lived in Texas for almost four years as a teenager. Everything was so spread out that a car is definitely necessary. A driver thru for most everything would’ve been a such an awesome convenience at the time. Especially because the weather is typically formidable and in the south (at least where I lived) you really have to be well dressed (for females must have earrings, makeup and all otherwise, you’ll get starred down) even just to go out and run a simple errand. I think all this makes everything much simpler.

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John July 17, 2013 at 5:19 am

The weather sure is brutal, so I certainly also welcome the drive-thrus :)

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