Saturday, August 18, 2007

Information Please

Okay, for those of you you who haven't guessed, I am a buggy driver. Actually, I prefer the term "carriage" but my significant other says that sounds pompous. At any rate, I meet lots of people from all over the world. Most of them are quite nice, and are truly interested in our city. I find this to be most true of people from other countries, but they are not unique. It seems that the farther away someone is from, the more interested the are. Kind of the opposite of the old journalistic standard which roughly states that a plane crash half way around the world is barely news, but a plane crash close to home is a headline.

I digress. I meet lots of people from all over, and if I'm lucky, instead of a tour, we have a conversation as we meander through the streets of the Quarter, dodging cabs and generally enjoying ourselves. But what really astonishes me is the misconceptions these people have.

Two nights ago a woman from Europe asked me "but New Orleans is okay now, Yes?" After I regained my senses (such as they are) and figured out what she was really asking me, I struggled to find a way to tell her how NOT okay New Orleans really is. Obviously, a trip to the Ninth Ward via mule was out of the question so I told her to get up the next day and book one of the motorized disaster tours for a look at how not okay the city is. I don't know if she did or not. I hope she did.

About a week before that I was lucky enough to pick up a load of college students from Illinois or Indiana or someplace who were down here gutting houses and had decided to spend their last night touring the Quarter. Now I was surprised to get them on my carriage at all because, generally speaking, these kids have no money, and what little they do have usually gets turned into Hand Grenades. But as we were rolling along, one of the girls asked me " was Katrina the biggest hurricane ever?" She was genuinely surprised when I explained to her that the damage she was seeing and in her own way ( god bless her and the thousands like her) fixing, was largely man-made. "Yes", I said "Katrina was a big one. But it was the failure of the levees and the general indifference of our very own government that did most of the damage. If the levees had held, Katrina would be just a memory, just another storm, and you, darlin', wouldn't even be here. Sure, there would have been a hell of a mess, but nothing like what we have now."

She was shocked. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME SHE'D HEARD THIS! Levees? Army Corps of Engineers? Huh? Not a clue.

So, if there is a point to all of this I guess it is this. If the rest of our country doesn't seem to care, it could be that they are just misinformed. At least, I hope that's the case. I hope the rest of the country isn't really that cold-blooded.

1 comment:

mominem said...

I hope your keep spreading the word.