Rednecks & Fainting In The State Capitol

Trip Start Jan 30, 2011
Trip End Nov 16, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, September 15, 2011

My first lesson of the day in Texas was that the term 'Redneck' isn’t offensive, and that those who the three of us might refer to as such wouldn’t realise the many connotations of the word outside of America; I wonder if they’d even understand what connotations meant? On the whole, rednecks back home are seen as people who live in trailers, deep fry their turkeys, and look like the blokes in ‘Deliverance.’ I didn’t see any such people riding the bus with me, as they’re all probably laughing on the other side of their faces driving past in their huge pick-ups, but I’m sure the bargain $2 day pass would be cheaper than the amount they pay for the many gas-guzzlers on the road. 

I went to a favoured redneck hangout to get some change for said day pass, Wendy’s, and whilst they gladly gave me some change they seemed perplexed at my not wanting any food from them.  Maybe the woman at the bus stop heard my thoughts, as she told me to get on the wrong bus completely, sending me around town for forty minutes to 45th Street when I was aiming for 6th.  Fortunately the bus driver was more helpful and pointed me in the direction of a connecting bus stop ‘in the mall,’ but that just confused me further as I ended up walking under the retail park’s canopies in search of a bus stop, only to find myself back in the same place ten minutes later; I considered asking the police walking by, but the fact that they had loaded guns on their belts and were heading for lunch made me not want to contend with armed and hungry officers. 

Apparently the driver hadn’t literally meant inside, and I was soon being directed to a gazebo in the middle of the car park where the bus stopped, of course it wasn’t seamless from there and I nearly ended up on a bus going in the opposite direction before doing the sane thing and asking where it was heading. 

I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of passengers were disabled in some form, from the man with the broken leg to the blind lady they all seemed impeded in some way, usually I just travel with the poor, but now I was cruisin’ with the infirm too.  They did provide me with my first hearing of the cowboy phrase ‘howdy’ when we got off the bus and one them found a friend, luckily it wasn’t me, but I soon wished they had taken me under their wings as I’d chosen to go in the wrong direction and found myself asking a lady at the crossing where I was.  In this extreme heat it was best to ask, as I’d probably find myself waking up in an emergency room if I walked too much in the 37 temperatures. 

After walking along 6th Street and wondering what exactly one does there if they don’t want a tattoo, piercing, or hard drink, I made my way to the Capitol building for a little Texan history.  As soon as I walked in I was treated to a portrait of the last governor of Texas before the current one, Dubya himself; his little face grinned back at me under the chandelier lights above that spelt out Texas in spotlights. I thought the guide might also be wearing some monogrammed cowboy boots, but all she had on her feet were some disgusting mock tortoise shell Crocs that made her feet look like blocks of Lego. 

She made up for her poor taste with the many snippets of Texan history, such as the bit about it being part of Mexico until 1836 when the revolution created the Republic of Texas, she also explained what the Alamo was, and whilst I’d heard of Davey Crockett I didn’t know exactly who he was or what he did; Texas history wasn’t high on the curriculum in Telford 

The pictures of past governors revealed a husband and wife duo, the husband had been dismissed for impeachment, but his wife took over office a few years later under the slogan ‘two governors for the price of one;’ it amazed me how quickly corruption was forgotten and replaced with some imagined rose-tinted view of history, such as the Bill and Hilary Clinton partnership

As we walked around the building that demonstrated the reasoning behind ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ I suddenly came over all faint whilst in the Senate Chamber under the glare of the ‘TEXAS’ spotlights and had to take a pew on the seats meant for leaders of the state.  The tour guide looked at me as though I was taking far too many liberties, but it was either that or collapse at her feet and force to her revive a six-foot fallen tree in the middle of her tour; after a few more minutes of cold sweats, hearing whooshing noises, and not being able to see straight, I was soon back on par with the guide and listening to the ramblings about how the politicians only had to attend the Chamber every other year.  I thought the politicians in the UK had it easy, but this was taking it to a whole new level. 

I wandered around the Capitol Building for a while after the tour, but on failing to see any proper cowboys exited in search of some lunch, of course a little confusion about which was north and which south ensued before I found anywhere to eat, but I arrived at a place called Jo’s and decided that with a name like that it had to be worth my patronage.  A turkey sandwich and some iced tea later I was ready to face the stifling heat once more, but I couldn’t do so in peace as I was approached at the lights by a deaf man holding a card saying he was ‘deaf and Hungary,’ I apologised for not having any spare change and wondered if I’d have been more generous if he’d spelt hungry correctly.  Probably not. 

I suppose I should have felt guilty as I did have some money and proceeded to spend it on a ‘cold buster’ drink at Jamba Juice to try and perk up my immune system, but as their phrase was ‘it feels good when you do good for yourself’ I figured they didn’t mind a little selfishness either

With the day finally tiring me out I was soon walking along a bridge that crossed Lady Bird Lake in order to get back to Brenda and Carli’s place, but it was too far to walk the whole way.  So after watching the rowers beneath and enjoying the breeze from the passing traffic I realised I’d better consult a map, and was soon changing direction to ensure I was walking towards a bus stop.  I managed to pass a glut of rush hour traffic and two ‘Hooters’ establishments on one road, then waited for what seemed like an age for a bus to take me just one stop, as I waited I seemed to be getting glared at by a few drivers; I’m unsure what their view is of bus passengers, but maybe I looked too clean and able to use public transport.  I should have been driving a gas guzzler. 

The connecting bus stopped outside The Coffee Bean, a chain I’ve not seen since I was in Saigon last year, and so in homage to my Southeast Asia trip I stopped in for an iced chai, only to get some complimentary ice water from the poor attendant who thought I was physically melting in the heat, before arriving at my temporary home to the greeting of ‘you’re shining.’ That’s the Texas heat for you. 
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