Friday, December 30, 2011

Dumb shit tourists say....

Quarter Rats are stuck in a dysfunctional relationship. They have to put up with abuse and bullshit to survive. We in the Quarter must tolerate and amuse the ten million or so tourists every year. Tourists are the life giving blood to the French Quarter, and also the most intolerable part of living here.  It doesn't take long of living in the Quarter before you stop seeing them, or even noticing their presence. Like not seeing the flies when you work in a barn until you find one swimming in your cup of coffee.

The other day while walking to work along my usual route of Royal Street on a beautiful morning, one scolded me. I was looking down at my cell phone to see if my employer had called yet to ask where in the hell am I with the keys to the apartment that we were painting, when I heard a shrill annoying voice bark in exasperation "That idiot in the white ruined my shot." Hm, what a coincidence, I'm wearing white I thought.  I half turned to my left to see some chubby housewife from the midwest holding a camera in one hand and a Bloody Mary in the other giving me the stink eye while facing a building that I just walked by.  Fuck you bitch, people live here I mumbled.

Once while having a smoke break on a bench in front of the Upper Pontalba, a tourist stopped, pointed a camera directly at me and snapped a photo. They then walked away without so much as a thank you. How rude I thought. What if I hung out in the parking lot of where you worked and snapped your picture as you were getting out of your car to go inside to work. You probably would find it a little creepy and tell me to go fuck myself.

Today Jackson Square was mobbed. As I tried to carry buckets of paint and ladders from one apartment to another, I had to walk at a snail's pace behind thick packs of tourists. Groups that all of a sudden stop dead in front of you, or park in front of a window blathering about how expensive everything is. Forcing everyone else to walk an additional ten feet around them, only to be obstructed by someone's brat chasing pigeons with a balloon animal.  Daily.  You deal with it, it's part of life here.

On the corner of St Peter and Chartres I passed a loud group of four discussing lunch plans. I couldn't help but to over hear yet another irritating woman with a drink in her hand and a voice that caused dogs to bark. "WHAT do the locals eat?" she loudly questioned. I wanted to retort "Hot dogs and Ramen noodles." I know I would have been met with the look that I have witnessed tens of thousands of times in my life, people sneering at me like I AM the idiot because they failed to grasp my humor. I shuddered at her voice and continued on my way fantasizing about smacking her in the face with  a paint brush still wet with the color "Urban Putty."

 WHERE do the locals eat? would have been a more appropriate question. If the four of you hadn't seemed like total dickwads, I might have taken the time to point you towards a few places where you would have found great food at very reasonable prices by the French Quarter standard. Real Cajun food prepared by real Cajuns while sitting next to locals who might have bought you drinks if they liked you. I kept quiet, I wouldn't do that to my neighbors. You probably would have responded "Coop's Place? I neva heard of it! Where's Bubba Gumps?"  Go. That's all you deserve anyway.


  1. You should hear the comments from outsiders. eg: My mother "wasnt zear a flood zear vonce" (she's German). Friends who don't travel: Has it recovered yet? (hate that one)

  2. Hahahhaa...oh jeez..I was just gonna say 'that sounds like my MIL' then I realized who posted the comment about the german mom.

    I hate the way tourists all disappear (wait, maybe that's a good thing) into their holes at 9pm then start out at 8am wondering why all the shops are shut.
    I hate tourists who ask about karaoke anywhere, but especially on Frenchmen.
    I hate tourists who won't get into it and just chill instead of just standing around staring.
    The tourists who wander into historical bars and don't freakin' buy anything but snap a few pics and leave.
    Oh I wish NOLA didn't need 'em. Sigh.

  3. It astonishes me when the same tourists who stop to admire and photograph the flower boxes on my balcony railing will also comment bitterly about the water that occasionally drips from those same boxes, as if it's some sort of orchestrated plot to ruin their idyllic enjoyment. (Shall I pull up everything I've planted and replace it all with the most garish plastic flowers and plants I can find?)

    Or when I was riding my grocery-laden bike home one afternoon and some drunken idiot from Elsewhere yelled at me from the sidewalk, demanding that I stop so that his wife (who was in some shop at the time and nowhere to be seen) could see my bicycle. I never stopped pedaling and simply yelled over my shoulder, "This ain't Disneyland and I'm not Minnie Mouse."

    Or when people tapped loudly and incessantly at all hours on the windows of my apartment (when I lived at street level), attempting to interact with my utterly indifferent cats -- as if the cats simply existed in that space without a human caretaker who might not appreciate such repeated thoughtlessness.

    People forget that this is the first neighborhood of this city and existed as such for 200 years, give or take, before also becoming a tourism destination. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, there were approximately 5,000 year-round residents in the French Quarter; if I remember correctly (based on the 2010 census), that number has dwindled to less than half -- approximately 2,400. I have no idea what the number of hotel rooms or other visitor accommodations (legal and illegal) might be, but the sad truth is that we citizens of the French Quarter are simply outnumbered by those who will never quite understand that, yes, people do actually *live* here.

  4. I'm an out-of-towner who's been visiting New Orleans on a yearly (and sometimes 2 x year) basis, and now my son is attending UNO. Great friends here.... and it's a great town. Thank you for relaying the impression that tourists have on locals. It's wrong. It's such a great place. Can't wait to be back. We respect the pulse - the heart - that is New Orleans...

  5. Thank you for expressing that. Let me clarify that we in the Quarter are very proud of our little corner of the world and delight in sharing it and showing it off to the world. We appreciate the millions of dollars pumped into our economy and providing us with employment. We embrace the TRAVELER. Those who show us and our city respect are always welcomed. If a traveler asks for directions or suggestions for the best places to eat or hear live music, a Quarter Rat will always be quick to respond with our local preferences.

    Perhaps too often we Quarter Rats focus on the idiots with hand grenade drinks, stumbling down Bourbon Street making an ass of themselves. To walk home only to find a puddle of urine on our doorstep.

    You sound like a traveler, and we will always have an open door for you.

  6. Thank you, Sir. Love the city of New Orleans. Will be back soon.... and with a kind heart. Believe you me....

  7. Hey there. Anonymous here. May refer to me as Arts Maven. Thanks again for the link and looking forward to be back in your wonderful city later this year. :)

    1. Ok, Arts, Look me up when you get into town. I'll treat you to a beer at Molly's on Toulouse.

  8. 16 years I've lived in the Quarter. Worked in it most of that time as well. I love this neighborhood, and as the rents have risen I've done without to continue to live in my soul's home. I watched it get more and more gentrified, I've said goodbye to the friends who chose to move their homes or businesses out of the 1/4... and these days many of my friends seem to pity me living here.. heh. However, at 41, I've just had my first child, and my landlord decided to raise my rent $200, and finally I just can't do it anymore.. I can't afford to live here. I'm crushed over it, but I have no choice and my path is set. Good bye Vieux Carre'... My always home. I'll be back some day, I hope. <3