The first day of any big event is always nerve wrecking. Whether it’s the first day at a new school, new job or in a new city, you can feel the weight of uncertainty on your shoulders. Your brain starts to dream up worst-case scenarios as butterflies begin doing the river dance in your stomach; at least that’s how most of it was for me the day I left my apartment in San Antonio to attend the Houston Auto Show. That morning it was pouring rain, not the most optimistic signal for a writer who tends to overthink everything. I was nervous because I did not know what to expect…a completely new experience in my life and career.
Feeling like a fish out of water was an understatement when I walked into the hotel they had booked for me. I was in for a surprise when I arrived at the Hotel ZaZa in downtown Houston, greeted by a Ferrari and Mercedes G-wagon parked in front. It was a beautiful hotel where someone like me can look out of place wearing worn cowboy boots and a black hat. No time, however, to enjoy the view – I needed to be ready for the gala(!) that evening.
Checking in at the event was interesting because at first they could not find my name on the list. It took them a while but they finally came across my name: Jesus R. Garcia – Gearhead Logic 1992. It felt surreal seeing my name and tiny auto blog on the same list as award winning journalists and media outlets. Looking around I did catch a few people looking at me with a puzzled look of “Who’s this guy?” Not to worry…I’d work to provide a credible answer within the content of my show coverage.
Fellow members of the Texas Automotive Writers Association congratulating me for becoming a member and accomplished automotive journalists asking for my input on cars snapped me out of my Cinderfella-at-the-ball trance. I had wedged my foot in the door to the automotive world; now, I had to make sure I didn’t get kicked out or turned into a frog at midnight.
The gala was great. The food was delicious, and any booze that is free is always thirst quenching. I did find the level of alcohol served to an audience either selling the driving experience or writing about it kind of ironic. Nevertheless, these were my kind of people. It’s rare when I get a chance to be in a room where I can speak ‘car’ and not have to translate. One thing we did prove that night was that you can actually fit five grown adults into a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Former TAWA president Mike Marrs generously gave us a ride back to the hotel that night in his silver Hellcat Challenger, a car I have been lusting over since its debut. While we weren’t exactly comfortable in the Challenger back seat (it was, uh, hell…), the exhaust note of that 6.4 liter Hemi made me almost forget the loss of feeling in my legs.
The next morning at the show we were shuffled around the floor to listen to each auto maker give their presentation on their latest product. I grew up reading and watching videos of these presentations; now I was sitting in the front row taking photos of cars I will later see in stories written by people I follow, now professional colleagues. The whole time at the event I kept thinking I was going to wake up in a pool of drool at work or in bed at 3 in the morning. I cannot thank everyone I met at the event enough for treating me like one of them on a professional level and making me feel welcomed. I can only imagine the silly look on my face during the whole event, like a kid looking through the window of a candy store who’s just been given the keys to open it. I’m pretty sure txGarage publisher Adam Moore got it on tape.
I think I’m starting the year off right. I plan/hope to cover more events, news, and cars for anyone out there who enjoys the way I put a sentence together. Thank you.