... is (or was) probably the second largest annual event in Houston, certainly taxicab-driving-wise.
The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo ... our biggest (bar none) event each year. EVerybody's a cowboy/cowgirl! Lots and lots of excitement leading up to and continuing throughout the show's duration (a touch over two weeks) at the end of February and beginning of March.
Both the barbecue cookoff and the parade with all of the wagons and horses, where city workers follow along with shovels, occur the weekend prior to the Show & Rodeo and are widely attended.
For YEARS, this was one of my most favorite events to work. (This was all before the new stadium was built, you must understand. The 'rules' changed for taxicab drivers, most dramatically, afterwards!)
[I must apologize here. I have just received a phone call from one of my very favorite customers. It seems that he wants me to pick him up at IAH tonight, and then -- on the way back in to town -- he intends to take me to see the Astros playing San Francisco at the ballpark. I am SO excited! Let's see if I can get my mind wrapped back around the original intention of this post. Give me a sec, OK?]
OK. I think I'm 'back'. There was (still is, actually!) a hotel located adjacent to the parking lot where the cookoff was held, talked about just a tad in this post ... think it might be a Holiday Inn. (?)
You could see the smoke and smell the fumes from the broilers miles away. Awesome smells!
The Holiday Inn was a great spot to 'sit' and wait for customers. There are a LOT of stories I could share with you. Here are only three:
1) It was somewhat late. A 'sweet young thing' came out of the hotel wanting a cab, and there was 'you know who'. She got in the car. I asked her where she was going. She told me the address of her destination. We got there. I turned the meter off and waited for payment. It was not forthcoming. Something went "Dingaling" in my mind, and I followed her into the store. At that point, I was confronted with a couple of 'little gangstas', who -- when I told them that the police were on their way -- quickly disappeared. Upshot? Police DID appear. Turns out that the 'sweet young thing' was a runaway. Her parents arrived, and I got my $$.
2) Mid to late afternoon. Fellow walks up to my cab. Wants to go to River Oaks. No problem. On the way there I learned that he is going to have to break into his home, as his wife has the keys. Seems that they had both driven in the same car to the barbecue and parked it, the understanding being that they would 'meet up' at a certain time later to go back home. If one didn't show up, the other was to 'get home the best way possible'. Well!! When we got to his home, my survival instincts kicked in. (It's not that I wasn't being paid. Oh, no! I just wasn't the least bit interested in being arrested for a possible 'breaking and entering' charge!) I asked my customer to give me five minutes to exit the area before he 'broke into' his own home and set off the burglar alarm. He did. End of story.
3) Again, mid to late afternoon. A gal comes out from the hotel with her luggage. I pull on up to get her. She's going to Hobby Airport. She's very excited! In fact, one might say that she was almost 'bubbling over'!! It turns out that her booth had won first place for "Grits".