Po-Boy Views: Street Wise or Baby Driver
Aug 20 2021

Po-Boy Views: Street Wise or Baby Driver

By: Phil LaMancusa

This is my inside voice on the yoga mat, "Om Mane Padme hum (praise to the jewel in the lotus)." This is my outside voice driving the streets of New Orleans, "Nice turn signal, F**k Face!!"

You/I can only be courteous driving here for just so long, and I've been driving here for so many decades, I'm jaded up to my gills. I'm able to tell you that, not only do we have bad drivers here, but that I am one of them; oh, I've never succumbed to a road rage exhibition, I tend to keep my anguish inside and wisely stay at a silent wonder as to how we, with God's blessing, are allowed to operate 10,000 pounds of twisted steel that have the ability to go fast and do damage. Now that I'm in my stately and mature years, I observe how inane, consciously or unconsciously, the driving public (including myself) actually is; basically, it's as if once we got our licenses to operate moving vehicles, we developed amnesia pertaining to rules, regulations, manners, or instructions that allowed to get behind the wheel in the first place.

I've had my share of cause-and-effect traffic mishaps; I've never hurt anyone or gotten a DWI, but I have managed to put bumps, bruises, and sometimes major damage to the vehicle I've been at the wheel of. If I drink and drive nowadays, a single beer is my limit, if that.

I adore the open road but not freeways or interstate highways. I harken back to the days when I could fix my own car; when the windows operated with a crank handle, when we had side vents for air flow, nothing was electronic, gas was cheap, and families had only one car. It felt safer.

Now it's almost cartoonish. That Yosemite Sam that cuts you off from the left lane to make a right turn; Elmer Fudd at the stoplight that decides that it's taking too damn long and they're gonna go for it; Bugs Bunny on a bike that's not stopping for anything; Daffy Duck deciding that you're going too slow so they're gonna pass you from the bike lane that some Pepe le Pew is using it as a motor scooter lane, while Foghorn Leghorn is deciding to amble across your path as you see another road signer asking for spare change (God Bless/Anything Helps), and you look up and witness a sign that reads "End School Zone" and you know for all the Looney Tunes around you that there's gonna be a $75 ticket arriving in your mailbox this week.

It's true I have an old car, a big old car; an old big heavy iron car that other drivers should give as much respect to as if they could see a bumper sticker on it proclaiming: "my insurance covers nothing, and it's your car that will get damaged, not mine," but they don't; a YIELD sign means nothing, they're going through it; a No Left Turn sign, no problem, they take it anyway; a yellow light means "speed up and try to make it before the light turns." They speed up, crossing my path, and go through the red light anyway. Sheesh.

Debbie always acts as my copilot when we drive and alerts me to dangers that I may miss; there are plenty, and she is aware of my driving shortcomings. She knows that if I turn my head to the right to look off road, the car will start to veer to the right (same goes if I glance to my left). She sees the bicyclist that's coming from my right when I'm turning left into one way traffic. She reminds me to fasten my seat belt. We stop when the light is yellow for more than 10 seconds. The other crazy drivers get angry at me. So what? It's our asses that I'm saving.

Advice: it's important that you have a good mechanic for your car, as well as knowing where the salvage yard is that has spare parts for your vehicle. It's important to have a "tire guy" that knows you and what your needs may be. Renew your AAA religiously. It's also important to be up on your registration, insurance, brake tag, and driver's license just in case. In case what? In case Wile E. Coyote decides to blaze through the stop sign, T-bone you, and say that you're in the wrong.

My car, The Duchess, in town drinks gas likes a fish. I'd love to go electric, but my finances are so tight that if money were dynamite, I couldn't blow my nose; as it is, I have to save some dough every year to get my shock absorbers changed from the damage stemming from the conditions of New Orleans streets; The Duchess has a propensity for finding all hidden potholes.

I keep The Duchess gassed, tuned, and ready to roll in the case of evacuation or escape, even though there's always a chance that she won't fire up when the key is turned; you see, with any vehicle, I've found that you're really at their mercy, as well as being at the mercy of other drivers.

To stay safe on our streets nowadays, the best advice is to be paranoid: they ARE out to get you.

New Orleans Perspectives

Tales from the Quarter: Returning Home
Po-Boy Views: Street Wise or Baby Driver