While Brett Will Taylor takes off a couple of weeks to get ready for 2013, we offer this encore post of one of his most popular columns, which originally ran in September 2011.
Every now and then, we all need a healthy dose of perspective. Maybe yours comes on Sunday from the church pulpit. Perhaps it’s a mid-week yoga class. Or, possibly, it’s just an unspeakably dry martini every Friday noon at Galatoire’s.
Me? When I seek perspective for this crazy magic carpet ride we call “life,” I head straight to Rouses Supermarket in the French Quarter.
Rouses. In the Quarter. It’s my very own temple of wisdom.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What is he smoking (and where can I get some)?” I know that Rouses is not NOLA’s prettiest temple. And the wine they sell is far from holy (I’m not even sure it’s wine).
But those sages behind the cash register? Well, as my aunt would say, “I am tellin’ ya.” They are the real deal.
Just this morning, I biked down to Rouses to pick up a few things. A couple of tourists were in front of me buying some aforementioned ripple, er, wine. Both were hurriedly texting away, never looking up to acknowledge the cashier … or the world. Finally, one did speak. Loudly.
“Oh my God. Everyone’s hating the new Facebook,” she said.
“What?” her friend shrieked as she swiped her ATM card. “They’ve changed Facebook again? Hurry up. We gotta get back to the hotel.”
She outstretched her left arm to frantically scribble her name on the computer screen while her right foot already was leaping out the door.
As the door swung shut behind them, the cashier shook her head verrryyy slowly and said, to no one in particular, “Hmmph. Imagine if they were carin’ about somethin’ important.”
I’ve gotten perspective on surviving long-term relationships at Rouses. Like the day I asked my favorite cashier, she of the always bright, never the same color, hypnotically-long nails, how she was doing.
“I’m good baby,” she said. “I got me a good man.”
“That’s great,” I said, at which point the other cashier chimed in with, “She ain’t talking ‘bout her husband.”
“Really,” I smiled.
“Lord, no,” my cashier said, shaking her head and wagging a gold-studded fluorescent green nail at me. “I got me a husband. I needed me a man.”
Now, I’m not saying you should go around shouting this advice from the rooftops — or the check-out line. — but….ya know. Sometimes. I’m just sayin…
Last month, Rouses snapped me out of a silly cycle of all work and no play. I was standing in line, slouched over by the week behind me and dreading the deadline-filled weekend ahead.
“Are you working this weekend?” I asked my cashier. “No baby,” came the reply. “I’m like Christ. Good Friday’s as far as I go.”
Then there are those times when Rouses puts it all in perspective. Like one hot, humid July Sunday afternoon. You know, one of those distinctly New Orleans days when the whole city smells like a sweaty armpit and the Quarter, well, it smells worse. The woman ahead of me in line was bitching and moaning about the heat, about how miserable she was, about how sweat was pouring out of her bra. On and on and on she went. Finally, the cashier had had enough. She locked that woman in her gaze and said, “Have you ever stopped to think that maybe God’s making it so hot to give you an idea of what it’ll be like down there if you don’t use this life to straighten up?”
I literally gulped. And stepped a few paces back. Just in case the gates of hell were about to open up and swallow this poor, sweaty woman — bra and all — right before my eyes. (By the way, when it was my turn to check out, I assured the cashier that I didn’t think it was that hot.)
As I biked home that afternoon, drenched in sweat and savoring my temple of wisdoms’s very own holy communion (aka a Hubig’s peach pie), I thought to myself, “Man. I love NOLA!”
Visit Brett Will Taylor’s blog at thestoryblogbwt.wordpress.com. Click on his byline to read his other stories.