Monday, September 18, 2006

"I'll Take Whatever You Got, Darlin'"

Yesterday evening we decided to have a picnic dinner in the park by the river. We stopped by Popeye's to pick up some fried chicken. That's when the trouble began.

We ordered. Then we waited. Then we waited some more. Other people ordered. They waited. The AC wasn't working. It was hot and smoky. An alarm kept going off intermittently. There was no ice. There were no onion rings. There were no napkins. They had mixed up the spicy and the mild. More people ordered. More people waited. The kids started climbing on the tables. This went on for a very long time. After a while, the whole restaurant was full of people standing around, waiting for chicken.

And no one got mad. There was a bit of sass, to be sure, "What are you waiting on?" "I'll take whatever you got, darlin'" or "They gotta go catch the chicken," but there was no overt malice. About half an hour rolled by. Finally, we got some semblance of our order and went on our merry way.

Something about this scene strikes me as quintessentially New Orleans: an acceptance of that over which one has no control, a willingness to take life's setbacks with easy good-nature, a (possibly excessive) tolerance of the incompetence of others, and a determination to do whatever it goddamn takes to get good fried chicken.

2 comments:

  1. Billy9:51 AM

    I agree with your assessment about the New Orleansiness of the scene there. And it isn't a Post-K thing either. I remember once being downtown a few years ago at the Popeyes on St. Claude and being told that they had run out of chicken. I said I would wait but they said that they weren't going to be getting anymore chicken that day. Fast food? Not in New Orleans.

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  2. And like the time on the St. Charles streetcar I discovered that New Orleans was different from anyplace I have lived--when an ambulance came through and interrupted traffic and a car got stuck in front of the streetcar at a red light, trapping the streetcar at a green light. Like any good northern son I braced myself for the waves of abuse and loudly passive-agressive grumblings, the yelling at the poor guy whose only crime was trying to get out of the way of the ambulance, advice shouted at the streetcar driver to just run over his ass--but of course, none of that happened. The streetcar driver turned and struck up a conversation with the man sitting behind him, and everyone else went about their streetcar-riding routines as if we were all moving along. I was most impressed and pleased. If I could have any assurance that I would not sweat to death, I would consider living there. My long weekend there gave me no such assurance.

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