Houston High Water HiJinx

I went to Houston this past weekend for a conference. I arrived early, and being that the Galleria was only a few blocks away, I decided to head over to browse the end of summer sales. Luckily for me, I was staying at the Houston Intercontinental and they provided a free shuttle between the granddaddy of malls and the front lobby of the hotel.
When my shopping sojourn was over, I called for the car. When I stepped outside Saks, it seemed as if the sky had opened up. It was pouring, raining, cats, dogs, iguanas, well, you get the picture. Torrential downpours such as this would absolutely close down businesses in my native Austin, but the Houstonians seemed unconcerned. The driver hopped out of the car and covered me with an umbrella. His attempt at keeping me dry was useless, it was raining every which way but straight down. I slid in the car with one side of my go-shopping jeans thoroughly wet. He glanced at my worried-looking face.
"It rained just like this yesterday," he said, trying to reassure me.
I wasn't quite convinced. "Really?" I didn't want to talk. Instead, I tried in vain to calculate how far the hotel actually was. The water was already up to the rims of the car. My tomach quivered.
We plowed ahead, almost too fast for me. It seemed like he should slow down a bit, but he didn't seem to care, driving as if monsoon-like rains were a normal occurrence.
He took a short cut, turning down a residential looking street. The water seemed to stretch from the shrubs lining the yard on one side of the street clear across to the shrubs on the other side. Sidewalks and low steps were covered with the quickly flowing rain water. I grit my teeth. In Austin, people get washed away by flowing rainwater regularly. Really. And they don't find the bodies. I had a flash in my mind of a flooded engine, some tidbit left over from driver's ed.
And then, the engine died. Too bad I didn't have the flash earlier because now we were stranded in water that was as high as the car door. I held my breathe. The rain didn't seem to be letting up at all and I was expecting the water to come pouring in any minute.
Another car was coming toward us, a small car. Her engine stopped too, only she was more brave than I was. We watched as she got out of the car and proceeded to push her car like a boat as the water lapped at her thighs.
A sport utility roared by, making it through by driving on the water covered sidewalk.
And that is when it happened. The car started to float.
My stomach clenched.
"Ur, you wouldn't happen to have a radio by any chance? A cell phone?"
He answered my in heavily accented english. "I do."
"THEN USE IT!" I couldn't keep myself from screaming. "Radio for help, dammit!"
They sent a van, but the van driver refused to come down the street.
The driver got out and waded around to my side of the car. "You are going to have to get out," he said.
My first thought was, this man is absolutely nuts. I have a thing about natural water. To make a long story short, I decided to save my shoes. I took them off, holding them and my handbag over my head. I waded nervously through the dark, thigh high water, barefoot, cackling nervously.
I made it to the van, finally, and needless to say, I didn't tip the driver. The hotel sent a bottle of wine to my room, along with a tin of chocolate and some fruit as an apology, and the hotel staff let me know that it was not raining every time they saw me in the lobby the rest of the weekend. Word traveled fats at the conference and people gave me pity looks before they even said hello.
I had floated in a car and waded in natural water. But my shoes were dry. Next time I take a hotel shuttle in Houston, I'll make sure it is a boat.

Comments

CydneyR said…
Nina, that's funny, I mean, not funny, yet comical. LOL. Because I live here and know about those downpours of rain. I guess we are used to it and know which streets to avoid, which ones turn into lakes, etc. But, at the minimum, I hope you had fun shopping at the Galleria; and I hope that the Intercontinental was a grand hotel in spite of that shuttle experience. Make sure and come back to Houston now, ya hear?

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