- Atlantans Abandon Me
- The $175 Tip
I am 99% sure that the reason is that, Friday, Michael approached me in Sydneys and it took me a few seconds to recall where I knew him from.
I am very bad with facial recognition.
Judi and Michael being in the real estate business, it is probably a matter of course for them to memorize faces and names, and they have probably become quite good at it. The fact that Judi remembered my name after meeting me once might be an example of this.
After a 3 second pause, it dawned upon me who he was; but it was too late. I could see it in his face.
When he went outside, he told Judi, whom I did recognize something like "He looked at me like he'd never seen me before.."
And that is why they decided to put their phone on voice mail and to never call me about giving me a ride to Atlanta.
The 3 Days Preceding The Supposed Trip
In the 3 days leading up to Saturday; when I was convinced that these would be my last 3 days in NOLA for a long time; I had unusual occurrences occur.
The 64 Year Old Woman
Thursday night, a 64 year old woman, who looked 44, came and sat by me on my Bourbon Street spot.
I was drunk, as it was about 2 a.m.
I thought it was a teen aged boy, at first, she was so petite, and wearing a baseball cap and far enough from my naked eyes where she sat; and plus, I was in that mode of not looking up from my guitar and I only glance over at her a couple times.
I was convinced that it was a street person who had only stopped because of the few single bills in my case.
She said something and I kind of ignored her.
This was a mistake. I had judged her to be not even worthy of interacting with.
I still thought it was a tiny little guy with an effeminate voice who became angry and started to to say "I was trying to pay you a compliment, dude, and you totally ignored me...f*** you!"
And then, this person said "I'm gonna make sure you don't make any money," then proceeded to spew forth all she could apparently muster in the way of insults and things like "Don't give him anything, he's an asshole!" etc.
I actually had made a little bit of money (certainly more than the 3 dollars of Thursday night) and was nonplussed by her antics....until a point.
I finally packed up my guitar; and feeling like I was doing it because of what I thought was this diminutive old guy with a high voice having won out over me and succeeded in moving me off of my spot by making it unproductive; I became very angry.
It wasn't until I was right in his face that I realized it was a woman.
I thought about the video that I had seen that morning of a man having his head cut off with a knife. For some reason...
I had Googled "train wreck" in order to post the picture from yesterdays post, and among the pictures of train wrecks were pictures of human carnage as a result of train accidents, and, clicking upon one of these led me to a website which featured all kinds of human fatalities captured on video.
Well, to make a long story short, I wound up watching a Russian soldier having his throat slit and his head cut off, that morning.
For some reason, that was the image which came to me; as I stood over this 64 year old woman who looked like a teen aged boy from a distance.
I was boiling over with anger, but any thoughts of attacking this person vanished as soon as I realized that it was an elderly woman (who looked very good for her age) and not a wise-assed little guy.
So, I did the next best thing to attacking her; I guess.
I got in her face and said "Have you ever seen someones head cut off with a knife?!?"
She recoiled a bit; but didn't evince much fear because, after all, it's reasonable to believe that she has never been physically struck in her life, and that is as it should be especially now as she is an elderly woman.
"You're going to cut my head off with a knife?!?" she said, loudly as if to draw the attention of whomever might be straggling by.
"No, I never would. I've seen it and I hate violence more than ever now!"
She was suddenly giving me a hug and telling me that she could feel my pain and that everything was going to be alright because Mama Cat (as that was her name) was here.
She put money in my case and then began to profusely apologize for having sat there and tried to prevent me from making money; and then became almost embarrassingly complementary; telling me that my music could be felt, even if not heard, all the way up the street and that when she sat down and listened, it was the most beautiful thing that she had ever heard and she had been trying to give me a complement and that I had hurt her feelings when I ignored her.
I apologized profusely for having treated her that way -as if she was going to grab my money and run- and there were more hugs and Mama Cat prayed for me; told me that she was in the 3rd or 4th "stage of cancer" and then even volunteered the information that she was herself homeless and added that she knew of spots to sleep which are the products of her having lived her whole 64 years in NOLA; and that she would show me one.
I declined because I was starting to get the vibe that she might have wanted me to hold her through the night; listen to her sad story and let her cry on a shoulder.
The 72 Year Old Lady
The next night, another lady who was 72 years old (and who looked 60) came along and sat at the same spot, and it was almost freakish, her similarity to Mama Cat, and the way that she made her age a prominent part of the discussion which we had. She was very concerned about looking young for her age. She made me tell her that she looked great for 72.
It seemed like someone was sending delegates to meet with me during my last 3 days in NOLA; the Elders, women who were the vanguards of the spirit of the city. They were giving me transcendental reasons for staying here and not accepting that ride to Atlanta from Judi and Michael. This one dropped a 20 dollar bill in my case.
Then, when I took a break to go to Sydneys, a guy out front struck up a conversation and then wound up sending me into the store with a 10 dollar bill to get us each a beer and "keep the change," he said.
The $175 Tip
And so, Saturday night, it was business as usual, except a guy came along who happened to be one year younger than I.
He listened to me play.
At one point, he asked me if he could play a song.
He had already swapped the few ones in my case for a 20 dollar bill, and I had made a few more while he had sat and listened.
He broke a string on it.
He apologized profusely and promised to give me more money.
He kept playing, minus the one string, which I admired.
He broke a second string.
He was doubly sorry and promised to give me 100 dollars for putting me "out of business" by breaking my strings.
Well, to make a long story short, the guy kept handing me 20 dollar bills at different points (after I played a song on the now 4 string guitar, or told a story) until I had 3 of them; and then made good on his promise to give me a hundred dollars when he handed me a 100 dollar bill to go with the rest; and though it got confusing with him making change out of my case and everything, I assess that it was a $175 dollar tip; at a time when I was supposed to be on my way to Atlanta but was instead at my spot playing music; and it was hard not to wonder if this city really has a consciousness and was thanking me for staying.
What To Get
Right now, Tanya and Dorise are not out playing and I am disappointed because I wanted to get their advise on how to spend the money. I could go into serious business by getting an amplifier and taking my rightful spot between Jesse, who makes at least 60 dollars per night, and The Guy With The Really Loud Voice, who claims that he makes "1,000 dollars a week," but who very well might actually make 350 bucks per week; which is actually a "living."
I will probably get a harmonica and a harness and then hit the road...