Running the Nola Gauntlet: A commuter's lament
I pounced out of bed, ambitious as can be.
My to-do list was long; there were people to see.
So I jumped in my car and drove straight away;
I was eager and excited to seize the day!
But then I immediately heard that god-awful whistle blow
From the train of my existence moving painfully slow
Down the tracks along Press, it stood right in my path
Provoking just the first case of severe commuter wrath.
Then there was a carriage pulled by a geriatric mule
That left my car tires a foul equine stool.
It clip-clopped along at a glacial pace,
To the solemn rhythm of a washtub bass.
So I turned a corner and found a second line parade;
As the mourners cheered, I flew into a tirade!
I thought of the opening scene from Live and Let Die:
“My car had become a coffin,” I thought with a sigh.
By the time the crowd of revelers finally dissipated,
The coffee in my tumbler had become stagnated.
So I barreled up Dauphine to avoid more delays,
But ran into a peloton of wayward Segways!
The tourists were gawking at balconies up high,
As I clutched my steering wheel and started to cry.
I pleaded with Siri to deliver me from this mess;
She was the only one who could help me convalesce.
But of course she picked a street with a double-parked car;
The driver was waiting in line at a popular oyster bar.
So I stopped for a Lucky Dog and a Tropical Isle Hand Grenade,
And enjoyed breakfast with the rest of the stalled motorcade.
Then I faced a bicyclist peddling the wrong way;
He was texting on his phone and sipping a frothy latte.
I swerved to miss and hit the banquette;
My decision to cross the Quarter was a massive regret!
So I made a u-turn and headed for the interstate;
There was still an outside chance I wouldn’t be late.
But traffic was tied up in a Gordian knot;
Cars were moving slower than gelatinous snot.
There were exit closures and at least a dozen wrecks
By uninsured motorists all clutching their necks.
As they made their “One call” to the attorney, Morris Bart,
I beat a hasty retreat like Napoléon Bonaparte.
Through a strangling bottleneck, I left I-10
And descended into the bowels of an alligator den.
Congestion stretched from Baton Rouge to Slidell
The Big Easy had become an infernal living hell!
I saw in the distance orange cones and yellow tape;
I felt like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.
So I revved my engine and drove straight ahead,
“Damn the torpedoes and the Walking Dead!”
The excavation looked like a Freeport-McMoRan mine;
There were mountains and valleys like along the Nā Pali coastline.
Obstacles were strewn from the river to the lake,
Obviously the result of some cataclysmic earthquake.
There was goop on the neutral ground that looked like debris
On a roast beef po-boy from the amazing Parkway Bakery.
And the “streets” on either side were torn up with a trowel;
Even DiCaprio in The Revenant would have thrown in the towel!
But I soldiered on to fight the good fight;
My Fiat 500 was nimble and light.
I maneuvered about with a determined gaze
Like a mighty Minotaur in a Minoan maze.
Then I fell into a pothole deeper than the Marianna Trench;
It had antebellum wagon wheels and a Bourbon Street stench.
I broke my axle and at least three vertebrae;
I needed Southern Comfort and a sympathy bouquet.
Hacking my way through yet another automotive thicket,
I moved so slow I actually got a parking ticket.
Delivered by a meter maid faster than Brandon Cooks;
My fine would surely go to some Perdido Street crooks!
When I finally arrived at work, it was time to go home;
I could have traveled to Kyoto or even ancient Rome
But instead I had traversed a quagmire of agonizing despair;
My NOLA commute had been a terrifying nightmare!
“The boys in Deliverance had had an easier journey,”
I thought supine on a paramedic’s gurney.
Running the NOLA gauntlet is a treacherous trip;
It requires patience, courage and a morphine drip.
Folwell Dunbar is an educator, artist and NOLA commute survivor. He can be reached at [email protected]
Folwell Dunbar is a New Orleans educator, artist and survivor of many things, from roaches to German U-boats and heartbreak. He is putting together a collection of these short stories and survival tales called He Falls Well (his name is pronounced “fall well”). NolaVie is honored to preview some of those stories here. Email him [email protected].