Friday, August 20, 2010

The Blond Haired Sister in Popeyes Chicken

Every month I go to a meeting full of wonderful people who help the city’s most vulnerable and needy people. I don’t want to sound corny but I am truly honored to know and work with people like them. Today’s meeting was a little aggravating because the room was hot as hell and there was just too much talk about Katrina for me. I understand why but the constant talking about it makes things a little heavy. I’ve come a long way but not far enough to want to talk about it for two weeks in a row. I’m usually one of the last people to leave the meeting. Today I was the first one to leave and I left early. I have never left that meeting early until today. I didn't have it in me and I didn't feel like faking it.

On the way back to the office I decided to stop at the Popeye’s Chicken on South Claiborne Avenue because it was early enough that not many people were at lunch so I could probably get in and out. When I walked in the manager was cleaning water off of the floor. I just so happened to have the same color shirt she did. While I was waiting for the young lady to take my order she walked up to me and said “I was about to say he got a shirt just like me. I was about to switch shirts with you because mine is wet.” I then told her I didn’t mind switching if she let me have my chicken for free. She laughed and said no.

About two minutes later a tall lady with blond streaks in her hair and about 7 gold teeth walked in with her elderly mama. She closed the door and the first thing she did was scream “Hi everybody! Praise be to God baaabby! How that song go mama?” She broke out into a gospel song but I couldn’t tell what she was saying because I was too busy laughing at her dancing. She then gave all of the ladies working there a high five and shook my hand. She spoke to all the people sitting down too. She looked at the cashier’s name tag and asked her, “Baby, how do you pronounce your name?..What?....Lord, tell your mama I said stop that madness”. Everybody started laughing. Two police officers walked in after that and sat down. When she noticed them she turned around and said “Hey officers how y’all doing? Ya’ll not the ones that arrested my son in law last night ha? Let me tell you about him. That boy ain’t nothing but the devil.” That’s around the time my fries were finally ready so I got my food and left her in there talking to the police officers while her mama just shook her head saying ‘that child is crazy.”

Now, some people might read that story and find it ignorant but with all the things we have been through I found it beautiful. I can’t quite put into words why this five minute episode in Popeye’s made me feel so good about being from here but I had to sit at my desk before I eat lunch just to write this and thank that blond haired, gold tooth sister for feeling good, being herself, and so New Orleans. I needed that today.

10 comments:

sussah said...

I wish I could have seen her. Popeyes tends to bring out the sociability in people. sp

Leigh C. said...

Absolutely beautiful. I agree.

Mz Flo said...

Love it!

Anita said...

This is a treasure of a post and illustrates perfectly one of the most charming and wonderful things about being in New Orleans.

When I encounter someone like this lady, I always feel like I have been given a gift by a really good gift-giver. New Orleans has more of these gift-givers than any other place I have lived. They show up in the most unexpected locations, like the ferns and flowers that grow out of bricks and concrete all over town, and are sustained by the same things, apparently, the sunlight, soft air and music of the city. God knows they aren't paid or cultivated and in any other city, they couldn't even be themselves.

Next time I run into one, I'm going to pay for their chicken or something.

bayoucreole said...

Yes indeed. Naturally Nawlins she is. Usually, I'm the one who starts having a long, drawn out conversation with people like her...they draw me in.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Aw'Man, ain't nothing ignorant about that scene. I really needed it too, today, right now.
Got you hangin.

No more than 2 weeks before The Flood, I was waiting for the bus at the corner of Royal and Elysian Fields, when up strollered Mrs Mae who lived around the corner next to me. She was pushing 95 behind that stroller, with the oxygen strapped on the stroller, and a Benson & Hedges extra-long holstered into the side of her mouth. And it was so hot and thick that day.
I've given up pointing out things to someone that age, but did say "Oh Mrs Mae, ain't it too hot for you to be pushing that oxygen tank around?" To which she replied: "Aw'Man, Shoogha, it is so hot here in August I swear. Did you know that this is the month when the Devil takes off for his yearly vacation? Never telling Mrs Satan where he gone, just grabs the Dark Lords and leaves her there to run Hell alone, typical! He always comes to New Orleans and sits his hot fat ass right on top of the whole city! That's why it so hot here in August."

Well, a few weeks later I'd venture to say that Mrs Satan finally caught up with the Devil, in New Orleans.
I won't call her name... but...
there was Hell To Pay! HA!

Thank you for being here.

T. Clear said...

I gotta say, this would be a rare occurence in little old Seattle. Wonderful! You put a smile on my face.

Whalehead King said...

Another New Orleans moment. Beautiful. It makes me happy to live here.

Beauty Jackson said...

She sounds like crazy bus lady to me. When I first got here, I would alway see this lady at the bus stop. Singing, dancing, being loud, talking to everybody. I would try to avoid her, for no reason at all really. One day I found myself chastising a man for being blatantly unfriendly to her, and she took her leave from him. I thought about how my passive aggressive unfriendliness was just as bad. Now, that's my round. Some people love the party; some people are the party. I'm thankful for folks like that.

The People said...

Sounds like a perfect way to feel blessed in this city. I had the fine opportunity to be driving down Felicity yesterday and there were three girls' bounce dancing to no music.