Today I got tested for COVID-19 and, while I had planned to bring a book to read while I waited, I forgot my book at home. Being too prideful to be one of those people who stares at their phone the whole time they’re in a line, I forced myself to stand for an hour and a half, noticing the things around me. (Phones have become our crutches; they help us avoid conversations with strangers in lines who could potentially become friends! They keep us from being in the here and now. Well, perhaps they keep us in the now, but not in the here. And while the elsewhere and now is also important, the here and now is vital. But that’s another topic for another post, another day.)
Okay, and yes, I checked my phone once or twice.
When I got to the testing site, there was a very long line of cars starting at the entrance and so I parked at the back of the line like everyone else who didn’t know any better. Once I got toward the front of the line, someone informed me that it was a walk-up site, not a drive-through testing site. So I could park anywhere and just walk in. But then, what were the cars in the line doing? Good question…
Anyway, I got out of line and drove to a nearby street to park. As I walked across the road and toward the site, I was talking to myself aloud. (This is something I do a lot of these days, living alone and staying mostly at home, and then wearing a mask in public which covers your mouth and makes it easier to talk to yourself in broad daylight.) I hadn’t even made it to the site and was already flabbergasted by the disorganization. “If only they had put a sign on the gate telling us to park and walk in, there wouldn’t have been this huge line of cars for no reason whatsoever. But then, what can you expect from New Orleans? It’s a disorganized, inefficient city!”
But as time passed and I was noticing the sounds around me, and watching as people entertained themselves in line or excitedly caught up with acquaintances they hadn’t seen all summer, I started to think of all the things I do love about this city. People are so friendly; they will talk to anyone. My first week here, people were already telling me their life stories. This city is so much more focused on community than on efficiency and I rather like that. Now, I still get fed up with the disorganization of the place, but inefficiency is different.
That’s one of the many things that makes New Orleans so different from the rest of the United States. Everywhere else, success is so esteemed (and efficiency is so often tied to success) that taking time to be slow and to invest in the community of people around you is often swept under the rug. But in New Orleans, why would someone take the fast route when taking the long, slow route leads to more interesting people and experiences?
We enjoy the process as much as the product. The preparations for the parade are just as important as the parade itself. We enjoy the cooking of the meal just as much as the meal itself, and we enjoy the meal just as much as the conversation around it. We don’t just get groceries, we make them. We don’t just eat crawfish, we peel them. We don’t just celebrate Halloween on October 31st, we celebrate all month. New Orleanians don’t just love something, they plan festivals around it.
You can take the people out of New Orleans, but you’ll never take New Orleans out of the people, just like you’ll never take the inefficiency out of New Orleans. This city is inefficient and that is just beautiful.
- beautiful: “Bein’ Green” by Andrew Bird https://youtu.be/mMlGoPp8FDQ
Read from the beginning: https://soarwithlaughter.com/2014/09/02/soar-cloud-high/