Whenever asked what my favorite book/movie/place is, I can never come up with one answer. It depends so much on my mood at the time. I can't pick just one particular thing. I could never narrow down my favorite places to one specific place. But I can tell you one place that is not my favorite.
The HCAD office. Or the Harris County Appraisal District, if you will.
I have had a few encounters with the HCAD office. Most recently, work related. I needed to pick up some documents before going to Austin tomorrow for work. I couldn't make it Friday. I planned to go Monday, but I had a doctor's appointment. That left this morning.
In Houston, you have to plan trips in to the city (not that the office is downtown or anything, but I have to travel in the direction of downtown) carefully. Time it wrong, and you add an hour, in the least, to your drive. If you aren't familiar with Houston, let me break it down for you. I have a Houston address. Another mile down the road, and you are in Cypress. Which means I live pretty much as far on the NW edge of Houston as you can get. It takes me an hour, on a good day, to get downtown. It would take you two hours to reach the SE side of town on a day of typical traffic. It is huge. There are tons of cars. It is a pain in the ass to go anywhere in this city. And? There is always construction on at least one of the major highways. When going to the HCAD office, there is another factor to consider. The later in the morning, the more people in line. It is a tricky balance, traffic versus waiting room.
Luckily, the HCAD office is fairly close to me, considering. I live off of 290, and the office is right on 290 just a few miles up. But those few miles are horrendous. First, the beltway feeds into 290 between here and there. And right past the HCAD office? 610. Two major interchanges in Houston. Both incredibly busy in the morning. Both blocking my commute. I sat and watched the news reports. I wanted the traffic to die down just enough that I could make the drive in under an hour, but not so much that the other HCAD bound Houstonians had left their house. I had to beat them to the waiting room, so that I could get my golden ticket (that's right, they have a "please take your number and sit for forty minutes while eight employees scratch their asses, two pick their noses, and one person actually helps you" ticket machine there), and spend less than an hour waiting in order to be home before Emmi got off the bus. At exactly 8:41, I left the house.
It was clear sailing for about a mile. Then a dead stop. For twenty minutes. I rolled forward an inch and cheered in victory for all the progress I had made. Luckily, I had Tiffany on the phone to entertain me. We talk about important things like our love of cleaning products, how she stalks my blog (Heyyyy Girl! Holla!), how no one in SC uses the word "Holla" and she should start that trend, how Kenny gives me shit for paying 4 bucks for coffee then later in the day goes out and buys a truck (Yep, a truck. Dude, I just bought coffee. You win.), and of course how I yelled at the daycare workers at the gym and now have to avoid them like the plague. Forty minutes into our conversation, I arrive at the HCAD office. The parking lot seems oddly empty.
I am optimistic. I can feel it. This is going to be my time to get in and get out without a wait. I will be the HCAD champ. I will beat the traffic versus waiting room game. It is going to be a good day.
I walk in and pass the help desk. Help? What help? I don't need your help. I know where I am going. Right up to the third floor. Look at me go. I step off the elevator...and NO ONE. The waiting room is empty. I take my ticket. They are on my number. Glory, glory Hallelujah! It is my day. And? They have the documents I need ready. The have record of receipt of payment. The papers are in my hand, and I am back in the elevator in less than two minutes. I do a happy dance in the elevator. I shake my booty. I pray there are no cameras in the elevator, but just in case I look up and blow a kiss. There. Let them think I know they are watching.
When the elevator doors open, there seems to be a bit of a commotion around the security desk. Uhhh. It was just a happy dance. You don't have to call everyone over to watch the video and laugh at me. Then, I realize I am not the attraction at all. There is someone lying on the floor. And there are paramedics. And ambulances.
Blocking my car.
PS The guy was okay. Just a little low blood sugar.