New Orleans, where bothering strangers is allowed: a Monday monologue
Posted by Jarvis DeBerry, Editorial writer, The Times-Picayune September 06, 2009 11:58PM.
Last month, as my wife was inside the Office of Motor Vehicles becoming an official Louisianian, I was outside fixing the brake light.
I had fixed it before -- so I thought -- but soon it was again being pointed out to me that the light was out. It was also pointed out that - given the nature of my columns - I should try to avoid a traffic stop.
The biggest frustration with fixing a brake light is the inherent inability to see if the job is done. Kelly was inside in a long line. She couldn't help. Some folks were sitting idly outside the building, but who wanted to bother them?
Oh, wait. I'm in New Orleans. Bothering is allowed.
I could be wrong, but the woman I yelled at through the open window looked like she was just waiting to be asked to do something. She hopped up joyfully. She asked me to take my foot off the brake and put it back on. "Do it again," she said, so she could be sure it was the light from the bulb and not the light from the sun causing it to glow.
I thanked her and she went back to sitting, perhaps waiting for the next stranger's request.
I went inside with the newspaper, and as I flipped through it, I thought about how few boundaries there are this city. I'd demonstrated it by bothering that woman for a brake light inspection.
I felt a hard tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a woman I'd never seen. She pointed at the A-section I still held in my hand. She said, "You done with that part?"
In New Orleans it has always been our habit to actively participate in the web of life. The article above is only one example. I think it is part of what makes this place unique and special. Nola