Tuesday evening, on my way home, I was driving up Metairie Road in heavy traffic. Suddenly as we drove past a small side street, I glimpsed a fellow on a bicycle coming out of that street, headed straight for our line of cars. In a split second, the bike whipped straight toward us, then at the last moment turned a sharp right and moved in the same direction we were going. I almost had a heart attack; I just knew I was hitting a cyclist and killing him.
And now, for perhaps 10 seconds he was pedaling alongside my car, just off the right window. I rolled it down and called.
“What are you doing? You scared the daylights out of me!”
He said, “Don’t worry about me. I know what I’m doing.” The light up ahead turned red, the traffic stopped, he crossed at the light, and was gone.
I thought of twelve things I wanted to say to that foolish man. “Maybe you know what you’re doing, but I don’t–and I’m the guy with the car!” “You’re trying to commit suicide, that’s what you’re doing.” I even thought of saying to him, “Friend, you’re going to get killed. I can’t say that bothers me a great deal, but it will devastate your loved ones. And, frankly, I don’t want to be the one who hits you!”
So, so foolish. “I know what I’m doing.” He was in a little world all his own, dead certain that if he followed his own rules, he would do just fine.
My strong hunch is that the impatient motorist on the interstate, the one weaving in and out of traffic, the fellow who tailgates you flashing his lights until you get out of his way, then pulls the same stunt on the next driver in front of him, that foolish speeder no doubt feels he knows what he is doing.
He may indeed. Until he meets up with another nitwit just like him, then all bets are off.
Earlier the same day, maybe at 1:30 or so, I drove a few blocks to a little eatery that has opened up on Elysian Fields Avenue close to the University of New Orleans. I’ve been there once, trying to patronize businesses that have reopened in our area. The food was nothing special, but I decided to give them another try.
Inside the door, a sign instructed me to seat myself. The one vacant table, however, had not been cleaned and the last diners had clearly been messy eaters. I pulled out a chair, sat a little back from the table, and looked for a waiter. A couple of minutes later, he arrived, towel in one hand and a stack of menus in the other. When I asked for a menu, he said, “In a minute,” and proceeded to–I couldn’t believe my eyes–rake the mess off the table onto the tiled floor.
I sat there frozen in place. Did I want to eat here?
I said, “You’re raking that food onto the floor?!” He didn’t say a word, just kept at it. I stood up and said, “Friend, this place is too dirty for me. I believe I’ll eat somewhere else.” And walked out. Nonplussed, the waiter called, “Thanks for coming in, have a nice day.”
Clueless, apparently. Or maybe he just didn’t care.
What are they thinking? I can understand the restaurants that serve you a bucket of roasted peanuts encouraging customers to drop the dry shells onto the floor. But wet, sloppy food onto a tiled floor? No thank you.
I drove down the street to Cafe Roma, a lovely and classy affair with great food, friendly staff, and better prices.
Do they know what they are doing, one wonders.
You visit a church where no one speaks to you, no one greets you at the front door, no one gives you a bulletin, and no one even acknowledges your presence. You’re uncertain where to sit, completely in the dark on where the nursery or rest rooms are, and feeling more alone by the minute. You can tell by the empty pews that this church is in trouble. You find yourself wondering, do they know what they are doing?
Or more specifically, what they are not doing.