NOLA in the Springtime - Day 7
At 10:30, I tell myself I have plenty of minutes remaining to do the last minute things I think I can do, and bolt out the front doors of the hotel. There are souvenirs I’ve been meaning to buy. There is a sandwich I’ve been compelled to devour. Both will be found in the Quarter. It’ll take twenty minutes to walk there, twenty to complete my tasks, twenty to get back to the hotel. I’ll have plenty of minutes left to take Lyft to the airport. Being there an hour in advance should be good enough to get on board my plane. Google Maps said it’s a 19 minute drive this morning, in the current conditions.
I made it to Verti Marte, which Leonard, the bartender at Restaurant Rebirth, said made the best sandwich in all of New Orleans while I dined there last night. I ordered that best sandwich, the All That Jazz.
There’s a lot of jazz in New Orleans. Conjuring all of it into a po’boy was a retrospectively speaking, unsurprisingly complicated, and an unhurried, on local time process. The Locals, stocking up on cigarettes, cheap here compared to NYC, paying for them with small bills and loose change, were in no rush either at checkout.
To say they were in no rush may oversimplify and misidentify it. As her change was being counted, this woman quickly picked up both packs of Marlboros after the cashier tallied them, and put them in her purse, leaving her Smart Water, dumb water, Monster, and Mountain Dew on the counter for plastic bagging. There was that one small rush, after all.
There wouldn’t be time to eat my All That Jazz down by the water. I thought about Fritz Myers, who I’ve not seen in years, because he loved that All That Jazz movie that Bob Fosse choreographed. He insisted we watch it stoned, twice, somewhere in 2012. This All That Jazz was nothing like that All That Jazz. All the parts of that film, from the people to the edits, were lean and on New York City time. They were aspirational, looking to be and do things. I think Fritz like that film because it was all about dreaming and the dreamers, New York City mythology. This sandwich had no such interest. It didn’t care to dream, it just wanted to nap.
Before I saw it wrapped in paper, I saw the American and Swiss Cheese piled on top of stack of fried meats (ham and turkey) and shrimp. The paper was already transparent when the cook handed it to me. This would not be lean. The weight of it suggested a density, from which I deduced it’d stIll be hot enough to not do its creator disservice by waiting until I got in the car to the airport to eat it, which would do a disservice to the driver and their vehicle because of the glorious pungency, which I accepted as an offense I was willing to give. It would also motivate me to get back to the hotel sooner.
I walked from Verti Marte toward Grandad’s General Store. Along the way, I doubled back for that shot of the guy patching up the gallery pole because it seemed so mundane, so necessary for the Quarter to keep operating as a fantasyland. The place probably gets wrecked and repaired on the daily. Unfortunately I didn’t get focus on him, I was in a rush and didn’t want to make it so obvious I was photographing him. There are people in the shot that are distracting too. I couldn’t wait for them to get out of the frame.
The trip to Grandad’s was for Cafe Du Monde branded beignet mix and coffee and chicory blend. Two of each. Neither gift wrapped, like what some other stores sold. One set for the day job office crew. One set for Alex, because she told me to eat beignets while I was in New Orleans.
I didn’t account for taking snapshots. I didn’t think it would take the kitchen so long to make that sandwich. I didn’t realize that Lyft couldn’t drop passengers off at the airport.
This last bit despite Veda, the woman who drove me back from the pool yesterday, telling me she dropped passengers off at the airport despite not being permitted. The goodness of her heart wouldn’t let her drop them off near the airport, in what they thought was a reasonable walking distance. It wasn’t reasonable, Veda said. She thanked me for the conversation afterwards –we talked about her other passengers who didn’t talk to her earlier –when she dropped me at the hotel last night.
I decided I’d just wait for the cab downstairs. One would surely come by the hotel since we’re on that street with the convention center and all those other hotels, one that had to be known to be ripe with fares to cab drivers. I also decided to eat the sandwich in my hotel room, because I was not thinking clearly and because I was not thinking, clearly. Thoughts were all over the place and planning skills were failing. Low blood sugar. I gambled, legal in NOLA a long while ago, that the time I’d spend eating the sandwich wouldn’t delay me too much in getting to the airport and would make me more rational. It also ultimately put me in a way better mood; stresses I had about leaving vanished as I annihilated that sandwich. Maybe 5 minutes of my time there. Minimal impact on the schedule. Low risk gamble.
My flight was now going to depart at 1:18pm, according to the Delta App notification I received on the way. I’d been given some free time.
I got to the airport at 12:06, thanked the cab driver, who grumbled like Grandpa Boguszewski but wheezed like someone else when he breathed, and dragged my bag to the Delta counter. Local time service here too. I waited 15 minutes just to hand over my bag after checking in. Then I spent 45 minutes in the queue to overshare my physique via backscatter with TSA. TSA was the same as TSA everywhere, slow and arbitrarily if not only accidentally discerning. But this TSA was also on local time.
I worried that I would be split from my bag again. The Delta app told me I could reschedule a flight for free because this one was delayed, but crashed whenever I clicked the easy rescheduling link it displayed.
My flight time moved from 1:18 to 1:15. I lost three minutes. The app stopped offering the rescheduling link to me.
I’d given up on getting on the flight. I was now worrying about where my bag would end up when I got split from it again. I was worrying about what other flights would be available today. I was worrying about what that fee would look like on my corporate card and how I’d explain the situation.
But the flight crew was on local time too.
The passengers were still waiting to board at D4 for flight DL3658 to LGA. I got some water, took a pause in the men’s room, and made my way onboard, to my seat at a good view guaranteed window on the right side of the northbound plane, in no rush at all. On local time.