I have noticed perhaps only two truths regarding the ability of drivers in the United States: 

  1. Every city believes they have the worst drivers in the country.
  2. The drivers in New Orleans are– in one work-appropriate word– mean.

If you read this and immediately scoff, guffawing into your morning coffee that I, a 20-something-year-old, am complaining about the meanness of drivers (Boy, does she have another thing coming!), then you have proven my point. I hope you’re comfortable in the little slice of hell you have brought into this city.

More than once I have witnessed cars cutting into bike lanes in order to get past drivers on St. Charles or side-stepping rush hour traffic by crashing over lawns alongside one-way lanes. Perhaps another word for this meanness is just simple impatience, the sly cousin of the ever-looming meanness. Impatience seems to be a theme amongst the older generation here– that of the Uptown area specifically– as I, a lowly service industry worker, have never seen so many elderly ice cream shop patrons pitch fits regarding how long their sugar-free vanilla malts are taking. I’d like to think that they are absolutely stewing when they leave the shop. 

How DARE that college student take 5 minutes to make me something that I ORDERED, that I know they have to make BY HAND because I hovered at the counter and watched them! 

This man had to have been at least 80, arthritis-ridden fingers gripping the wooden paneling of the counter so hard that I thought I could hear the splinters entering his hands.

How DARE they not serve me with a smile when they’ve been on their feet for 6 hours and I didn’t tip them! Preposterous! Things were better when I could berate those no-good 20-somethings in public!

I’d love to see them during the births of their children. A notoriously time-consuming activity, generally requiring a hefty amount of empathy from those surrounding the one actually doing the work. Did they grab the doctors by the collars and demand that they pull the god-forsaken thing out faster?

Call me a pushover, too soft for my own good, but sometimes I like to smile. Turns out, it’s not that difficult. If I can’t be nice, I simply keep to myself. Yes, there’s a time and a place to stand up for yourself. You shouldn’t let people push you around, and sometimes you’re gonna have a bad day and snap a bit at someone. But for the most part, it is absolutely exhausting to be cruel. I’d like to think that every impatient driver and every angry old man in my ice cream shop just simply needs a nap. Perhaps this Holiday season, they can practice some breathing exercises and realize that the world is sometimes hard, but people at their core deserve respect and the occasional gentle interaction.

Either that or everyone over the age of 50 is experiencing the effects of all the lead in their childhood water supply and they will not be released from its grips until they give into the sweet embrace of death. I’d call it a 50/50 split.

Featured image via Charles H. Traub.

About Mercedes Ohlen

Mercedes is The Crescent’s Editor-in-Chief. She is currently a Senior majoring in Anthropology and Communications. She enjoys going to the movies, fashion, and writing about the great city of New Orleans. She will be pursuing a career lifestyle and news journalism or a job within the entertainment industry upon her graduation from Tulane. No topic is too obscure, and no story too niche.

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Mercedes is The Crescent’s Editor-in-Chief. She is currently a Senior majoring in Anthropology and Communications. She enjoys going to the movies, fashion, and writing about the great city of New Orleans. She will be pursuing a career lifestyle and news journalism or a job within the entertainment industry upon her graduation from Tulane. No topic is too obscure, and no story too niche.