There was a man wandering up and down Canal Street in New Orleans shaking a collection tin at tourists in Hawaiian shirts. He was watching everything that went on along that road and every now and again he’d notice a traffic violation and scream things like, “No left! NO LEFT! Dumb fuck! I’ve scraped three people off that corner already this week!” But the Humvee ignored the ‘no left’ signs and turned left anyway. A motorcyclist swerved. Somebody else honked. And life went on.
Not wanting to have him try to wrangle some change out of me, I darted down a side street and headed into the French Quarter. Spanish-style buildings (yes, Spanish buildings in the French Quarter – don’t ask) lined these streets and I chose one with a jazz band playing outside, and with the promise of an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast for $8. Live jazz and as much crispy bacon and scrambled egg as I could eat, what wasn’t to love?
This was what I wanted out of The Big Easy, what I was expecting, even. I sat and watched and listened and ate my breakfast. I had nothing else to do today. Nowhere to be. No job, no uni classes, no home, no train to catch, no anything. I was just there to do nothing, just to be. It was very Zen.
As the musicians took a break, with one of them walking around the tables looking for donations, and while I was contemplating a second OJ, the waitress sneakily dropped the bill onto my table. But I didn’t hold a grudge; I was alone sitting at a table for four, stuffing my face with enough food to see me through the day. And besides, it’s not like it happened often. In other restaurants they were happy to let me sit around and do whatever I wanted.