Thursday, June 4, 2009

Not a Wise Purchase

We had a thunderstorm last night, a fairly rare occurrence here, and as I was waiting for the thunder-phobic dog's Benadryl to kick in so I could go back to sleep without her panting, drooling, climbing on top of me, and clawing at my face, I was thinking about the differences between the Louisiana shown in the HBO series "True Blood" and the Louisiana where I spent 54 weeks in exile.

- I can understand all of the characters on the show when they talk. Two illustrations of my experience:

1) My next door neighbors had a boy who was in first grade. One day he offered me ("Miss Theresa") a "pay-ya". He repeated it no less than five times before I figured out he was talking about a pear. That's not an accent, that's a speech impediment.

2) At the hospital all of the doctors (and all but one student (who was from out of state)) were white. All of the custodial staff were black. I honestly couldn't understand anything the janitors said. Those guys worked hard, if somewhat ineffectively (eg, they pushed around these huge floor buffers for two hours every morning, but no one ever cleaned the floors first, so there was a fifteen year buildup of dirt and floor wax in all the hallways -- once I found a dead little Mediterranean house gecko that had obviously taken a few turns under the buffer), but I can't see any of them getting another job that required any speaking skills.

- Nobody on the series is driving around while drinking. I used to see people driving while taking swigs out of an bottle in a brown bag. While driving drunk was technically illegal, the police didn't seem interested in enforcing that. Driving in Baton Rouge at night was scary.

On the plus side, it meant that people were used to avoiding the impaired. That worked in my favor as I was driving home one morning on the fourteenth straight day of fifteen-hour overnight shifts. I woke up as my car was going across two lanes of traffic. Nobody around me seemed particularly bothered. The shock of it kept me awake for the rest of the way home -- I was too tired to care much if I lived, but there was no way in hell I was willing to die there.

- Nobody on the series is blaming everything on the hurricanes. I moved to Baton Rouge (which actually didn't have much storm damage) less than a year after Katrina hit. Turns out there was absolutely nothing that you couldn't blame on the hurricanes. "Since Katrina and Rita..." was the start of every explanation from corruption in the government to roads that hadn't been repaved in fifteen years.

On the other hand, the series is about vampires, so maybe they're not really claiming it's all true...


A Free Man said...

I love Louisiana, but I would never want to live there. Particularly not Baton Rouge!

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

As much as I hated living in Baton Rouge, I have to admit that I saw almost nothing of Louisiana since I was busy sleeping on the few days I didn't have to be at the hospital that year.

On the other hand, my five mile commute took at least twenty minutes unless it was the middle of the night, the weather was godawful for eleven months, and I've never seen another city where turning the wrong corner would put you in a terrible part of town so quickly. Not my idea of paradise.