Monday, December 17, 2007

Keep Austin NICE

It's true that I'm a little bit biased about central/south Austin.

Everything major that goes down here - SXSW and Austin City Limits for example - happens south of the university. And all of the Austin-y press that comes out of the city - our live music, our indie films, our vocal vegetarians - points to the central/south Austin experience. So navigating the area of town where my office is located is always an adventure, because it is north, while I am vehemently a Hyde Park resident.

Whenever people say "The Arboretum," there are about 4 locations that I think they may be talking about. I have since learned that one of these areas is the Gateway Shopping Center on 360 and 183, which would make sense, since this shopping center is not an "arbor habitat" of any sort, but an extremely large parking lot with stores on it. That still leaves 3 "Arboretums." But the point is, since I work in north Austin each day, I've slowly begun to unlock the mysteries behind this family-friendly, slightly yuppie corner of the city, and for that I only feel a deeper kinship with my demographically diverse metropolis.

However, there are times I wish I had nothing to do with north Austin.

It was dinner time, and I was taking a client out for sushi. It was a restaurant I had never visited before, but came highly recommended by colleagues. As I turned onto the street, I slowed down to read the address numbers, chatting happily with my client, scanning signs for the restaurant name. I guess I was driving a little slow, because the next thing I knew, a most hostile individual pulled up next to me.

I wish I could quote for you all what he said. Judging by his face, it looked like he was saying: "I AM GOING TO TEAR THROUGH YOUR METAL CAR DOOR AND DISMEMBER YOU WITH MY BARE HANDS FOR DRIVING SO SLOW!!! BAHHH!!"

However, I didn't roll my window down to catch his diatribe - not because I was deliberately ignoring him, but because I was genuinely confused. Why was he so mad at me?

My kind, easygoing client laughed it off. But I felt embarrassed.

That wasn't a peace-loving vegetarian or a hipster musician, like we're known for. It was - I hate to say it Austin, but you know it's true - a hick. A clean-cut hick for sure, but a hick all the same. That insipid reminder that you still live in Texas: a truck mounted on ginormous wheels, close-cropped hair, puffer jacket (which did provide a small degree of comic relief -how threatening can you look, really, as the Michelin Man?) Totally losing his shit because the car in front of him was going a little slow.

So, come on north Austin. You gotta weed these types out. They do not belong in this city, and moreover, they probably feel like they are surrounded by a bunch of freaks anyway. Let's enroll them at UT and not let them come out until they are educated, thoughtful, and civil, or send them back to Beaumont / Tyler / wherever in Texas these people come from.

Otherwise, they are just going to get all upset when they eventually have to come to central/south Austin, and must share the road with bikes.

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