“When did you become so nice?”
That’s what a Boston friend asked me last week while in New Orleans for a visit. We were driving down North Robertson when the car in front of us came to a stop smack dab in the middle of the street. The man driving the car had stopped in order to have a conversation with a woman who was sitting on her stoop. It was quite clear this conversation was going to occur without the woman leaving her stoop. Or the man leaving his car. Which was now not stopped, but parked, in front of mine.
My friend reached over to sound the horn. I swatted his hand away.
“Don’t do that,” I said. “It’s rude. He won’t be long.”
“How do you know?” my friend asked.
“Because he would have pulled over if it was going to take long,” I explained.
My friend just stared at me. “When did you become so nice?”
Now, of course to a Bostonian, everyone seems nice. And foreign. That’s because there’s no time to be nice in Boston. In Boston people are obstacles. Standing between you and wherever you’re trying to go.
It ain’t like that in New Orleans.
In New Orleans, people are family. And who isn’t nice to family? Well, okay, maybe not Aunt Gladys. You know, we all have one. The aunt who brings the Tofu Etoufée to the Fourth of July picnic. Please. Ain’t nobody got time for dat.
But I digress.
In New Orleans, everyone is nice to everybody. We’re nice to people we know. In fact, the car my friend and I were driving the other day belongs to my neighbor. She was in Europe for two weeks and told me to use it whenever I wanted.
I can assure you that never happens in Boston.
But it isn’t just our neighbors. Around here, we’re nice to people we don’t know. The other day, I was at the Chase bank in the French Quarter, waiting to make a deposit. The line was extremely slow, even by New Orleans standards. When I got to the teller, she actually apologized for the wait, explaining that the computers were down. “We so appreciate your patience,” she said. And she meant it.
This from a bank. A Chase bank. God, I love this city!
Why, in New Orleans, we’re even nice to people we’re trying to rob.
My friend Marco was walking out of Gene’s Po-Boys late one night when a guy, who obviously was seeking a dishonest day’s pay, followed him around the corner and pulled a gun. Demanding Marco’s money. And po’boy.
Marco looked at the guy and said, “Dude. I know you. You live down the street from me. Remember? I patched your bike tire.”
The would-be-robber tucked his gun back into his pants and with a big, neighborly smile said “Awww, that’s right man. It’s cool. It’s cool. I ain’t gonna rob you. I’ll go find somebody else.”
Well, now. Isn’t that… nice.
To read more commentary from Brett Will Taylor, visit nolavie.com.