New Orleans is like the main hive for weird and unconventional conventions. Aside from the annoying way tourists can never seem to figure out our convoluted downtown one-way street system (okay - I have never actually figured out our convoluted downtown one-way street system, but the constant brake hitting from the beat up car with the Oklahoma tags is still annoying), I usually appreciate the business and the amusement.
During my law school years I led a fairly sheltered life Uptown, and had few occasions to hit the CBD / Quarter and its amazing magnetic tourist field. Of course now that I work in an office with a god-like view (from which I have often taken the occasion to make god-like pronouncements while standing at my window on a Saturday at work), my tourist exposure is sure to give me some sort of cancer at a later stage of my life.
My first exposure to the convention season happened as I was walking back to my garage one night after a long day at work, and who happened to stumble out of the cheesy tourist bar across the street, but Jack Sparrow himself. Well- Jack Sparrow after the hard living had caught up to him, but yeah, a genuine pirate nonetheless.
Unfortunately, he must have sensed my penetrating and mocking gaze because he wheeled around so quickly our faces were about five inches apart. At which point, hoping desperately he had left his cutlass behind, I grinned amicably and said "hi."
"Argh!" he growled back.
At that point I noted two things. One, pirates do not smell very nice. I always thought pirates smell like Old Spice, but it's really more like a combination of cheap rum and body odor. And two, I needed to get my head checked -- particularly when I walked into work the next morning to find the entire food court covered with Jack Sparrow's shipmates.
At some point later in the day, I was informed (by a co-worker who was admittedly not a licensed practitioner of medicine) that I am still probably nuts, but yes, there ARE a bunch of pirates running around New Orleans right now because the Pirate Convention was taking place that week.
Since then I have been exposed to the Vacuum Inventors' Association, the American Dental Association, the Keystone Club, the Red Hat Society ... you name it. And all were fairly tolerable.
Except for the fucking Lutheran Youth Convention.*
Lutheran Youth everywhere - fuck you. I am working a ridiculous amount of hours and all I need every evening is to be stuck in the CBD for hours, missing my chance to cross intersections because you travel in hordes of forty, wearing identical flourescent t-shirts, smacking bubble gum, ignoring the walk / don't walk signs, blocking traffic and taking your sweet-ass time getting across the street. It's like you think God is on YOUR side or something.
After three days of this, this bitch had frankly had it. So when a group of about thirty young women decided to start across the street I had finally managed to turn onto while patiently waiting through THREE green stoplights while their cohorts performed a migration, I did what any reasonable 30-year-old attorney who never gets to see her dog or home would do. I accelerated, slammed on the brakes, blasted my horn and giggled with delight to watch them scream and scatter.
Yeah, if there's a God, he probably laughed too.
*Message to parents of Lutheran Youth: New Orleans is not really the place for young Christians. I observed that more than a few of your mini-WASPs definitely sneaked a hurricane or two in. You may want to avoid sending them our way again, lest they start turning into Sodomites or something.
I was a little confused today by a woman standing on the side of the road holding a sign. Besides the do-rag holding back her grey bobbed hair, she looked pretty clean -- not the type of person you'd find standing by an intersection holding a sign up. And her sign was not of the usual "Need employment/food/home/ride/drugs" ilk.
It simply said "Need ice cubes."
I think this was just a subtle way of getting money. It's not like people just drive around with bags of ice. I mean, usually if I see someone who needs food, I'll totally give them the crust of my sandwich bread or something, but this woman was not giving me the impression that she would accept me dumping the ice from my soda into her palm. So, the only way to help her out with the ice cube situation would be to slip her a five.
BUT the problem doesn't end there. Then she'll need transportation to get the ice from the store and then back to her house. So, you end up giving her a ride, because if you don't she won't be able to carry the bag, and the ice will melt and she'll just have water and she'll have to stand by the side of the road again until someone else comes along who is sympathetic with her ice-less situation.
But then the plot thickens even more. Because she probably doesn't have a house - so where is she going to keep this ice? Now you have two options. You can buy her a cooler (much more cost-effective) or you can offer to keep the ice for her in your home. But then you have a stranger going in and out to get ice.
And what if she is using the ice to make daiquiris? Then you have to get her a blender too. And probably all the ingredients since you'll feel bad making her make you daiquiris on her own dime when she's so poor she can't get ice cubes and all. But then with all the free cold booze around, and standing in the hot sun, and not having a job and all, she's just going to end up an alcoholic. And then you have to sponsor her for AA and shit, which is really time-consuming when you have better stuff to be doing -- like drinking drinks with ice cubes that you worked hard to pay for instead of standing by the side of the road hoping for someone to toss a bag of "Igloo" your way.
I guess, in sum, I'm glad I didn't help her out. People are so goddamned greedy.
I'll be the first to admit that within my fine frame pounds the heart of a monster, but luckily I am often saved by revealing this side by the fact that I am ALWAYS ridiculously kind to those in the service industry (which people take to mean I am ridiculously kind, period).
The reason for this is quite simple. I, like so many of you out there who worked your little tails off to get where you are without mommy/daddy/grandma's trust fund bumping up you and your designer shoes to major in "Communications" and slide into the law firm your great-uncle started, have had the misfortune of working in the service industry.
It sucks. Because the majority of people have no class. And even those with class could occasionally use some fucking manners. (Like you, senior-associate-with-face-like-a-creature-that-eats-its-young who thinks it's normal to continuously snap at me when frustrated at the way the cookie is crumbling while wearing Prada shoes that impede you from making that three block trek to the courthouse unless a $20 taxi is involved.)
One summer of waitressing Cracker Barrel turned me into the Mother Theresa of customers. As long as you don't work for a credit card company's customer service or I catch you spitting in my food, you will be treated as if you were worth four times your salary. And I tip 20%.
The other night my landline rang. This is an unusual occurrence, and more unusual was the fact that I decided to pick it up. It was a young desperate sounding girl trying to do a customer survey about television programming.
I tried to gently let myself off the hook. "I'm so sorry. I really don't think I can help you. You see, I don't actually watch television."
But she started to beg. She told me about how this was her last survey, and the whole thing would be over in about three minutes, and she started reminding me of myself about 5 years ago when I was getting my license in phlebotomy which meant I had to talk 100 people into letting me put needles in their veins to practice, and my heart just melted. "Okay, okay," I said. "I'll help you out and answer some questions."
"Great! So, let me just read you the first question. Appriximately-how-many-times-per-week-do-you-remove-unwanted-body-hair-from-your-underarms-face-or-bikini-line-area?"
Crunching conundrums, blasting boredom, eliciting criticism, languishing while laughing, blaming poetry (and/or the lack of) for all of my choices, leaving it to the stars or the people better equipped to handle it, cackling at catastrophe and saying sayanora to sourpusses and sore losers