When I run along the St. Charles neutral ground, I have to step over this fallen lamp post. I'm not sure how long it's been there, but for as long as I can remember a few blocks before I get back to the apartment, it lays there, in the way, and I step over it. You might think I would have to hurdle it, or even jump, but it's pretty low to the ground, and stepping works just fine. I don't even really think about it, which I think is why I don't know how long it's been there. It has just become part of the landscape, one of the nuisances of life in New Orleans these days. I'm aware I'm constantly dealing with stuff that people elsewhere don't have to, but I think I speak for most New Orleanians when I say we just get used to it.
For instance, in the last couple of weeks, the bulk of the work on my house finally got finished. Yes, believe it or not, my house was essentially complete, and the only thing left was to get a final inspection and get Entergy to turn on the electricity and gas. Just one more nuisance. Gav, my contractor, told me that once the inspection was done, the inspector would fax the permit over to Entergy so they could turn my stuff on. However, Gav also told me that when I called, Entergy would lie to me and say they didn't have the permit and getting gas and electricity could take weeks. Problematic, since I wanted to move in, but didn't really feel like doing it without hot water. I know, I'm so spoiled.
Now, while I had no reason to doubt Gav, my fears were deepened when the inspector showed up because he said the exact same thing. Yep, the city inspector said Entergy would lie to me and I would have to spend days on the phone with them, trying to make them find the permit he had faxed over days ago. Needless to say, this didn't bode well.
Determined to find a way to bypass the delays , I figured I would get a copy of the permit myself and take it to some Entergy office somewhere and thus circumvent their lies. I did get a copy of the permit, but couldn't find an address for Entergy anywhere. With growing concern, I called them and ignored all the voice mail options until I spoke with a real person. Unfortunately, when I asked her for the address of an office where I could come by and get my account started, she told me there wasn't one since they do everything by phone. They had anticipated my ploy, circumvented my circumvention!
Despairing, I went about setting up an account with her and she told me I needed to get a permit and get back with them. I saw my opening.
"I have a permit!" I cried. "Right here in my hand."
"Hold, please." A few agonizing minutes later, she came back on and said, "Oh, I see we actually have received that permit."
Success! Unbelievable! Not only that, be we made an appointment and the guy actually showed up. I nearly had a heart attack over finally catching a break.
The upshot of all this is that - one year, four months, and eight days after - I am moving into my house.
Perhaps I need to repeat that with emphasis.
I AM MOVING INTO MY HOUSE!!!! Did you hear the trumpets sound? Did you see the clouds part and the light pour forth?
Of course, I know that any number of problems will still arise, not the least of which will be living in a neighborhood about a quarter occupied and filled with abandoned, rotting housing, as well as the long, slow recovery of the whole city, but for now -
I stepped over the lamp post.