There was an accident on the highway this morning which caused traffic to back up for miles. Several people on the van heard this traffic report and suggested that the driver take an alternate route.
Then we descended into navigational chaos.
Four people offered no less than seven different route options to avoid the traffic. They talked over each other, corrected each other, and quibbled about time and distance. To compound matters, the driver for the morning did not possess even rudimentary knowledge of surrounding streets. Which led direction givers to speak even more loudly in effort to drown each other out hoping that their suggested route would be chosen.
Off we drove in the opposite direction of usual and turned on to side street after side street. One such road ran directly between a cemetery, a sobering sight in the early morning. As the backwater tour through rural Houston outliers continued, I saw junk yards, broken down boats, and cows, all of which eventually gave way to urban decay. As we inched closer to the city there were endless rows of run down apartments, hair supply shops, and an impressive graffiti likeness of Ludacris.
I stared out the window feeling depressed by the signs of poverty and wondered how the hell anyone could be successful when there are more liquor stores and greasy fast food chains in their neighborhood than manicured parks or quality schools. I felt like an asshole for not appreciating my education, my health, or my opportunities every second of my life.
Then, as we pull onto the traffic-clogged loop encasing the city, I notice two billboards directly across from each other and I see the battle between the haves and have-nots wage on: On the outer edge of the loop where you find minorities and industry, a billboard with 10-foot high red lettering screaming, "GOT SYPHILIS?" On the inner edge of the loop, home to a metropolitan and upwardly mobile crowd, a tasteful navy blue billboard advertising an MBA degree in scripty gold letters from the esteemed and private Rice University.
I'll be at work in 10 minutes and I sincerely hope we aren't taking the same route home.