On Your Last Nerve
I saw the pothole debacle on the show this week, as well as the Entergy debacle, and my ire went up all over again.
Oh, sure, we’re built on pudding here. The ground can shift and shimmy into interesting, subtle positions, making the asphalt paving above it give way when you least expect it … or, repairs can get started and then hastily abandoned in the name of not enough financing to continue. Everyone ’round here has a story, not just about the ones that opened up, but also the ones that the city left hanging for quite a while. And it’s still going on – just check the Fix This, Please section of the Times-Picayune online, or every Monday in the dead-tree edition, and you’ll see the craters in our streets that must still be avoided.
And I don’t even want to get started on Entergy, ’cause I’ll be here all day and night, otherwise … but the key with this latest episode of Treme is how to deal.
What came to my mind first was the following from Cheryl Wagner’s Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around, the saga of a New Orleans native’s, her boyfriend’s, and her two basset hounds’ return to New Orleans and their slow rebuilding of her flooded-out home in Mid-City:
We inaugurated the Get Aggravated the Fifth Time, Not the Third method. But then we quickly had to up that five to ten. It wasn’t exactly like letting go, though it was. It felt more like learning to take a hit.
So when the hammer breaks in your hand and you drive to the hardware store to replace it but the hardware store flooded and never reopened and you finally find a place that is open and you have to get a thirty-dollar hammer or no hammer at all and you suck that up and grab the last one and head to the checkout and the telephone is still out so they only take cash and you go to the ATM and it’s smashed and then you finally, somehow, someway get cash and go back and get that golden hammer but also a nail in your tire, don’t get mad. Just take the deepest breath of your life and figure out how to get that tire fixed. When you go back home to discover you’re thirsty and out of bottled water and that Clo (the dog) ate some plaster, shit it on your mattress, and Buster (the other dog) ate it, then go throw some bricks at the collapsing shed. Then cry like a baby into Clo’s fur.
So what that five hours have passed and you only managed to replace a hammer? Call it a day. Go find a friend’s shower hopefully and briefly collapse on her warm sofa afterward instead. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Strategies. There are still strategies that must be employed to hold up your head another day, even after the gas line hasn’t been completely flushed out, killing your business at the restaurant for that night, and you go off to drown your sorrows. Even if you are an insurance agent telling a hard-working man his insurance policy doesn’t mean what the man thinks it means, and confiding that you, as a continual bearer of the bad news, can’t get by without drinking. Even if you drove into a gravel-filled cavern of a pothole that snapped your car’s rear axle like a twig, then entrusted a stranger in good faith to take care of your valuables inside only to come back to find your stuff missing and, also, to find that you can’t refrain from taking out the would-be Samaritan’s inflatable skiing Santa because you are fresh out of holiday cheer. Even if you are holed up in your house because your workplace isn’t back yet and you can’t figure out what to do with all the ways in which you are full to bursting of how your home, your people, your reality has been, and continues to be, screwed over regularly.
What do you do when you are on your last nerve?
You find a way to cultivate a new one. Any way you can.