Last week I got to spend time in New Orleans, one of the world’s coolest cities. (I told my boss I was going for the SEDC Conference, not for Hurricanes and hysterical gay men prancing around in red dresses and thongs. Both can be true, right?)
SEDC is the Southern Economic Development Council that includes the 17 southern states.
When you’re in New Orleans the contagious spirit of happiness is everywhere. To see how much progress has taken place in the five years after Katrina is impressive. The people of Louisiana have the best attitudes and are so very proud of their home. Hearing stories of people watching the TV and seeing their houses completely flooded is something that most of us can’t imagine. Everyone there says that they’re looking forward. Their future is bright!
From the time that you arrive the feeling of fun takes over. Having some time on the Saturday that we arrived, my colleague, Steve and I headed over to Bourbon Street. That morning there had been a Red Dress Run to raise money for cancer. Everyone is in a red dress. I totally stood out, not having one. People went to great lengths to look good in their red dress. You could stand there for hours and be more amazed at all the ways that a red dress can be worn.
New Orleans is famous for its great food and entertainment. From Felix’s Oysters, Grand Isle’s wonderful seafood, Mr. B’s brunch to any hole in the wall, there’s wonderful food everywhere.
Under duress from my boss, I’m telling this next story. Forgive me Steve! Saturday evening, my colleague, Steve had talked all day about having “discovered” a “fantastic local place”, called the St. Charles Tavern, and suggested we take some of our clients there for dinner. It had been recommended to him from a family member. So we walk from the Sheraton a couple of blocks to catch the trolley and head to the St. Charles Tavern. It was typically hot and muggy in New Orleans. (This is unfortunate – my hair is just not made to hold up 5 minutes in the humidity. So of course we waited 20.) By the time the trolley finally arrived we were making serious plans to grab a taxi, over Steve’s objections (he liked the “local flavor” of the trolley.)
Once the trolley arrived, it was packed and hot. Not off to a great start here.
One of my friends/customers that joined us was very subtle in the way that he “hinted” that we should pick another eatery. I don’t do subtle very well, so missed his meaning entirely. Said he, “I only go there at 3am, when I’ve been drinking all night.” Upon reflection that probably should have been plenty of warning for me, but I was too focused on my collapsing hair to notice.
We get there and it’s a very old corner neighborhood bar/restaurant. (I’m told the look on my face, less than exuberant, was priceless when we walked in.) It wasn’t the kind of place that I’d pick to take my customers to. When we sat down, the menus were torn and had lunch type things on it. At this point I really should have asked if anyone would like to try another place. But you live and learn. Of course you don’t learn until the next day, how really bad it was for everyone else. Steve and I must have been smart, because we ordered the evening special of crab cake benedict. Compared to what my clients suffered through, it was surprisingly edible. The next day, all kinds of people were coming up to me and telling me how glad they were that they didn’t go to dinner with me last night. It was so embarrassing! What do I know?
Tuesday evening we had a blast at Tipitina’s. SEDC had rented it out for us and had Rockin’ Dopsie, the greatest band play for us. This band was awesome and got everyone dancing. We didn’t want it to end.
Congrats to everyone in Louisiana for rebuilding and bringing all the fun of New Orleans back to life! Thanks for showing us your great spirit and teaching us what’s really important in life…living it to the fullest and to have a good time, no matter what it throws at you.