Sunday, September 14, 2008

The back seat of the cab..

I love traveling..If you open yourself to new people and experiences, life is fulfilling and you can learn so much...

This trip was not very different. Jeff learned about what a coonass is; I learned that networking pays off; we both learned about how above ground tombs work in the south and that categorizing people based on race, class, and culture is not an effective tool to determine political opinions..

It was about 87 degrees, sunny and humid as only new orleans can be in early September..We flagged down a cab to take us back to the airport..Not to stereotype, but the typical southern cabbie pulled up..A larger,black man driver..(I use the term black, because it was his preferred self definition of who he was to us..).

He asked us where we were from; we told him Michigan..For the next 20 minutes he held us captivated, (or captive if you were not of our political leanings) as he shared with us of his opinion of Detroit and Michigan..He shared a story about how he and a buddy both raced motorcycles for a well known company; and that during Katrina, they ended up on their racing bikes headed north to avoid the storm..They had nothing other then their bikes, and the clothes on their backs..

You need to picture this story being told by this man with not only a southern accent but some coon ass thrown in with a little hispanic slant..(this language combination thing is fairly indigenous to new orleans).

He referred to Jeff as boss; and the picture he portrayed is one of being very frightened by the bums, scalywaygs and "jerry springers" he met in Detroit. He said you could see in the eyes of those he met; that they had nothing good in their life and that despite his problems of being homeless, jobless and not knowing what he would find upon his return; that these people had it worse then he..

He said he knew the problem with Detroit. We had bad government, he could tell by the condition of the city and the people he met.(Ironically, he pegged the Kwamie situation without even knowing it..)

The next 15 minutes were spent listening to his version of why we should vote for McCain; and that what Obama was presenting was nothing short of socialism..and that Obama's plan would do only one thing; hurt the working man who paid taxes.

Trust me when I say; this man, in his less then eloquent, less then intellectual mastery of the language captured the complete notion of free enterprise and why taxes/big government hurt the working class like himself..

He then told us that he was sharing his opinion with anyone who would listen to him; his coworkers and buddies..those he raced and drank with the Carlos and Abdul's who viewed that white men are evil..His comment to that? White rich men own corporations and they all work for those corporations; and if they get taxed, they are gonna bend over and take his terms.." I told them they had better go to walmart and buy some ky jelly, cause they are gonna need it if Obama gets to be President."

I sat in the back seat just absorbing and thinking..How many individuals out there have similar thoughts? The level of his understanding of economics and political outcomes on the working class was beyond that of most college educated self reported politically correct/righteous individuals. This man understood and accepted not only who he was; but what the realities of life are..where he was socioeconomically and what his life was about..

The political musings of a self professed black man who referred to my white husband as boss; and spoke of the political dismantling of good cities because of overtaxation and crime....funny...not what I expected to learn while riding in the back seat of a cab out of New Orleans...

Reflections of Culture...

Wow...again..apologies for the time between posts..Funny how my life has taken me from having empty downtime to write and contemplate to the busy/happy life I am currently enjoying..

Today finds Jeff and I sitting in the Atlanta airport awaiting our flight home..We are returning from a fun crazy filled four days spent honeymooning in the Big Easy..Amazing, but not surprisingly we travel well and very similarily..both kind of ready to get home and gear up for the busy work week..

For the curious; he and I enjoyed way too much, drink, music...again a huge thank you to the locals we met while in NOLA, your culture and city continues to surprise and intrigue me. We ate at three different locally known venues; one located deep in the poverty laden neighborhoods that we viewed during the Katrina footage; one in the eclectic, intellectual, artsy inspired neighborhoods around the garden district, and one in the upper french quarter that is world reknown for it's decadent and great food...None failed us-each surprised and delighted us with a culture only found in this great city...Despite the drastic differences of each venue; the service, and experience left us wanting to take it home with us...

As a side line..we spent very little time on bourbon st. If you think that is the appeal you are sadly mistaken..The true culture of New Orleans can be found outside of the street it is most famous for..The best food, the best music and the best drinks can be found in the districts, and parishes that surround the entire city. It is a culture of uniqueness that cannot be matched by any other urban U.S. city.

I reflect on the cultural uniqueness as something that inspires my work in long term care..It is my vision of what we should be developing as we evolve into the world of caring for the next generations..As a leader of care; I need to be the director and motivator of not only culture change but also culture recognition. As I sat down to brunch today at a white clothed table, eating an incredible 3 course brunch; the thought occurred to me that some of my elders would enjoy such a meal; and others; would have found comfort sitting at the rickety kitchen table, eating green beans and fried chicken served on 30 year old kitchen ware. It is such differences that make our job challenging to meet the coming generational needs..

I shared with Jeff my thoughts; and we concurred that the successful facilities of the future would be like small cities..with very different neighborhoods; each meeting the needs of those who live there short term; or permanently...the ideal...ah yes..something to think about and work toward..