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Austin’s SXSW invaders

I was admiring the cowboy boots of the guy checking in ahead of me at the Motel 6 on I-35 in Austin, Texas, before I realized what he was talking about. The boots were beat up, scuffed, marked with years of toil. Nothing glamorous about them; pure shit-kicker, and beautiful for that. I heard their message  loud and clear: you're in Texas now, California boy.

Cowboy boots man was griping to the check-in clerk about how he hadn't been able to find any parking downtown that morning. And when the clerk confirmed that he would be staying only one night, he nodded, and laughed about how there was no way he would be paying the jacked up-weekend rates. More grumbling ensued about the pain-in-the-ass-ness delivered upon Austin this week by all the out-of-towners..

"I'm sorry," I spoke up. "It's my fault."

He turned to me, confused for a second, and then grinned. "Nah, this has been going on for years. Although it does keep getting bigger."

"Yeah, but it's my first time, so I'm clearly part of a growing problem."

He shrugged. To tell the truth, he appreciated all the cash injected into Austin by SXSW. More money for the city meant more money to pay him for construction jobs. So what if there was a little extra traffic in a city already busting at the gills?

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