We here in New Orleans have a soft spot for the incidental characters that may pop up from time to time at the fringes of our lives.
Many’s the time such people will add some spice to a tale of that time when…or the Incidental One will come ’round once again and unexpectedly hit you right between the eyes with some wisdom from left field…or such people are people you can bond with other people over: I was at that club when So-and-so did that crazy thing…oh, really?…well, let me tell you about the time when… They’re the people that, it seems, are always there, yet one doesn’t get close enough to them to get their true stories, their origins – well, maybe one eventually will get there, with time. The greater impulse in relating with such folks is to simply let them be. It tends to be more entertaining that way, anyhow.
Over the past few Treme episodes, it’s become clear that Sonny may actually have done a couple of things that have made him only slightly less of an asshole:
– He’s rescued some people out of the floodwaters shortly after 8/29/05
– He’s brought a fellow back from his Texas trip that we’ve affectionately dubbed Tiny Bouncer (or World’s Smallest Bouncer, or Li’l Bouncer) due to the guy’s job at the honky tonk where Sonny convinces him to schlep on to New Orleans – and to his size being in indirect proportion to the job of being a bouncer (okay, fine, for most of us here at BOT, size does matter).
So Tiny Bouncer makes his way crammed in the back of a teensy sardine can of a car with Sonny and pals, finds some roofing gigs, gets bummed out of some of his earnings while staying with Sonny and Annie, runs Annie to safety after a shooting at a second line after which Sonny is left behind calling for her, then he gets booted out of the apartment as a result.
But we find soon enough that Bouncer Man isn’t someone to weep for unnecessarily, nor is he to be pitied despite his presence with the crooked roofer Riley on Mardi Gras day as Riley accosts LaDonna for slapping a subpoena on his sorry butt. As LaDonna tells Antoine of her troubles with the perpetual care of the family tomb that turns out not to be so perpetual, Tiny Bouncer walks in, all business with a clipboard and a proposition concerning the roof of Gigi’s. He’ll get it fixed for free in two days. The thing that clinches his presence up on that roof?
I’m from the state of Texas, ma’am. No disrespect, but y’all got a defective work ethic down here.
As my mother says, shit on a stick.
Then again, he might have a point.
A while back, someone commented on how much everybody was working, working, working through all of this madness after the flood. No disrespect, but I think there’s been much more hustling than working – it came with the territory. It’s inherent in LaDonna seeing all the angles in trying to get the family tomb back together for Daymo’s funeral – can’t ask husband Larry for the money, ’cause then he’ll be all up in my business. It’s in Janette trying to cook her ass off on the streets to stay in New Orleans. It’s in Antoine trying to do what he’s always done: hustle for gigs ’round town, which is also what Sonny and Annie do. Toni’s had to hustle some folks to get to the truth of where Daymo is. Albert is doing his thing, as he always does, to get his gang on the streets, and the lieutenant is doing his thing to make sure nobody gets seriously hurt on St. Joseph’s. Hell, if I hadn’t been home the day the insurance adjuster took a look at our roof from the sidewalk and tried to convince me that we didn’t have ceramic tiles up there, he’d have hustled me, too – had to show him a tile that fell off just to see his face fall. Everybody’s got an angle, a plan for the next thing that’ll get them over. And here’s Tiny Bouncer, all earnest and forthright in the land of the hustle, giving LaDonna a gift that has no strings attached. What the hell?
Really, what’s in it for him?
Well, he’s got something tricky going on. If he does the roof in two days and does it well, he can strike out on his own due to the beginnings of that old standby, the word of mouth, with LaDonna at the start of it telling friends who need work done about the job this roofer did on her bar and how he did it fast and did it well. Fast was of value back then – it took ’til 2007 for us to finally get a roofer up on our house doing the work we needed. Doing it well – of even more value.
I have spoken to at least 4 more contractors since Rick Ford. Two gave me outrageous bids and told me they were licensed. One admitted he only had a license with the city, but just try to check it out on the City of New Orleans website. Really, try it. I dare you! I don’t know what will happen by the time you do this, but every time I’ve tried, I get a drop-down menu to choose “state” and the only state on the menu is California. Forget about the “city” menu…
The second contractor, who I just call $200,000 guy, explained that he was licensed under another contractor. Rick Ford tried this line on Renard at first, then said he was “in the process” of getting his license. This is B.S., folks. It doesn’t work that way. You contract with the person licensed, not someone who “works under someone else’s license.” But he was a no-go anyway, with his 25% sub-contractor mark-ups and a bid that was about twice what I’d gotten for the same work from a licensed company I haven’t mentioned yet.
Number 3 claimed to hold the State’s “Home Improvement Contractor” registration, and while there is such a thing, he’s not in the database. I’m still waiting for his bid and am interested to hear the explanation of his absence from the state database.
What’s with these guys?
I hope with all my heart, for both LaDonna’s and Bouncer Man’s sakes, that that roof doesn’t leak. I wish to God there were more people around like Tiny Bouncer, but if this small tale of “How Gigi’s Roof Got Repaired” within the tapestry of Treme doesn’t cement the show as fictional (which we seem to have to remind ourselves of time and again), I don’t know what will.
For now, I must raise a Miller Lite at the bar to the bouncer’s initiative and to what looks like good work.
And here’s to the hustle. May none of us ever be on the wrong end of it…whatever that wrong end is.