Now that I’ve completely and permanently moved back to Houston, I decided it was about time to get in touch with other RPCVs. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer was such an important part of my life but yet it’s hard to share with people who haven’t been a part of that experience. In some ways, it’s really only other RPCVs understand that experience or are even interested in it. My friend Lisa, is a member of both the official and the unofficial RPCV groups and added me to the lists. So about once a month the groups meet. Yesterday we met at Liberty Station, a bar that was converted from an old gas station. (It’s a bit hard to find, so keep your eyes peeled.)
It was a bit of an eventful evening. After dinner, I had to go through downtown to get to 45 to get to Liberty Station. Since I really haven’t driven in Houston for about four-five years, I have AT&T’s navigator system on my phone and depending on the signal strength sometimes is how fast it changes to the next step. At some point in time, I had to make a right and then an immediate left to get to 45. I made the right and then with my left blinker on changed lanes until I was in the left turning lane, all the while making sure that there was room for me to change lanes. I changed lanes in front of a Houston PD car, but there was more than enough space. Sat at the light and then turned left once the light turned green and there wasn’t an traffic, since it wasn’t a protected left turn. Immediately after the police officer turns, he flips his lights on. I freak out because I haven’t really gotten any tickets ever, I never had D-Hall in my life as a student, etc. So I pull over because maybe I’m in his way keeping him from responding to an emergency. But no it’s me he’s pulling over. I am mentally upset, but I’m actually pretty calm. The conversation when like this:
HPD: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: No I don’t. What did I do?
HPD: You made a left turn from the right lane.
Me: But I was in the right lane to turn.
HPD: Exactly, you were in the right lane and made a left had turn.
Me: No, I was in the turning lane, the left turning lane, when I made the turn.
HPD: Well, then, you kinda cut me off.
Me: I did? I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.
HPD: License and registration.
Me: I’m so sorry. I never meant to. I’m really sorry.
HPD: Did you hear me honk.
Me: Honk? No. I didn’t. I was lost and trying to find my way.
HPD: Registration. How many tickets have you had.
HPD: None? None? No accidents?
Me: No. No. I had one in college ten years ago.
HPD: What was it for?
Me: Speeding. Here’s all my insurance papers, which one is the one you need?
HPD: This one. *Looks at it and basically throws my drivers license and my insurance at me* Nevermind.
I sat stunned for a bit, then clarity come and I realized he couldn’t really give me a ticket because his original “reason” was not true and the real reason was a bit petty, especially with my driving history.
I eventually made it Liberty Station. It’s an eclectic place, a pretty big outdoor seating area, interesting paintings. The things that I was so impressed with were the seating areas are far enough apart that you can’t hear the tables near by, but close enough that their conversation “buzzes” in your ears and the music is a bit too loud, both make it a bit hard to hear the person next to you.
I’ve come to realize that I never really experienced the much talked about reverse culture shock of readjusting to life in America after being a PCV when I first returned, but I almost immediately left for Ireland, then I returned for a month or two and then it was off to Slovakia, etc. So I’m experiencing a massive extended reverse culture shock and it’s a bit disorientating at times. Which means that I can get all kinds of advice from RPCVs that know what I’m going through.
Now if I could find a job…