In which Aviatrix is frightened by an ATM and the car culture.
This town, despite being fairly compact for an American city, seems to be inhabited by people who do not walk. I mentioned a couple of days ago that kids don't walk to and from school. I present as further evidence a bank with a sign "24h ATM".
I walked up to the bank, but the front door was locked, and there was a sign giving the opening hours of the lobby. And those weren't twenty-four hours. I followed the walk around the corner, looking for an exterior wall-mounted ATM, but the walk dead-ended at a dumpster. There was no sidewalk on the other side of the building, but I tried going that way anyway, and found a drive-up ATM. I pushed the buttons and got my money, feeling a little insecure as an SUV pulled up in line behind me, and then I went back across the parking lot to the hotel. I looked again at the sign, and it definitely did not say drive-through. Apparently ATMs here are drive-through by default. And have no sidewalks.
Two blocks the other way was a Wal-Mart. My coworker made that sidewalkless trip for groceries and reported someone in a pickup truck turning around in a parking lot in order to come back and ask, "Are you okay? Did your car break down? Can I give you a lift?"
It was 16 degrees celsius. Not raining. Pretty much perfect walking weather. After three days I have seen no pedestrians or cyclists here. There were people riding bikes in Montreal at twenty below. You could tell they were their winter bikes, not their good bikes, but they were riding.
Now I told you I was irrationally scared of Texas. This is the sort of thing that makes me scared. It makes me wonder if this is a bad neighbourhood. But all the families are rich enough that their kids have cars. So people aren't going to be mugging me for my shoes. Are there poisonous snakes? I don't think so. Not on the street anyway. I intellectually know that no, there's no danger: people here just don't walk. It's in the culture. But the creepiness of seeing no one walking triggers my 'something wrong here' reflex. It's like when all the water goes away at the beach and you know it's time to run for higher ground before the tsunami crashes in.