Continued from May 8 . . .
I wheel back to the other end of the block and get more tickets, then approach the Cajun Café, which is selling gumbo and jambalaya. The problem is that it is the only booth that is selling gumbo and jambalaya so there is a long line. In fact, the line is double, blocks access to every other part of the festival, and you have to wait in it for twenty minutes.
While I wait, I consider how hot the crawfish were and the likelihood that these Cajun foods may be too hot, too, so I decide to get samples of gumbo, rice and beans, jambalaya, pulled pork and coleslaw. When I get to the head of the line, the woman asks what I want. I say I want samples of everything. She says, “No. We don’t do that.”
I stare at her, then point to the paper taped on the table in front of her which says, “Samples of anything $1.” She gets mad at me but decides she has to cooperate. “What do you want?” she asks.
“Gumbo,” I say, “jambalaya, pulled pork and—.”
And she says, “We’re all out of jambalaya. You’ll have to wait.”
The Crawfish Fest is scheduled to run from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. It is now 12:30 p.m. and the only booth serving jambalaya has run out. I already have waited twenty minutes but will have to wait more. No, I don’t see that happening. So I get pulled pork, which is cold; coleslaw, which is perfect; rice and beans, which are okay; and gumbo, which is really, really good. I wish I had gotten a full portion of gumbo, but it’s too late now—and I’m not going to wait in that line for another twenty minutes—so I decide on pizza or something from another booth.
This necessitates wheeling—for the third time—back a block to where the ticket booth is. When I get there, the menu taped to the table does not list pizza. I ask the waiting woman how many tickets I need for the pizza. She says I don’t need any—I can pay cash.
“What?” I say. “The program says ‘Tickets Only—No Cash.’”
“That’s just for the crawfish and Cajun Café,” she says, “not the other booths.”
I say something really nasty under my breath. All the thousands of people who will come here today will be dutifully trudging from one end of the block, where the food is, to the other end of the block, where the tickets are, because NOWHERE does it say: MONEY IS OKAY!
My therapist used to tell me that my main problem was that I expected things to work, e.g., I expect festivals to be run by competent adults. Sheesh.
So I go to buy a piece of pizza—which turns out to be a hotdog—and then I actually enjoy the festival. The sun is warm and the breeze is soft. The people are friendly and the T-shirts are interesting. Little kids run loose, looking at everything with puzzled fascination. The music ranges from good to really good, particularly featuring Weather Machine, which has two excellent vocalists, either of whom I would be glad to take home for the night. Later I heard that the Fest also ran out of crawfish.
So here are my concluding recommendations, in no particular order:
1. Get the cops out of clumps and direct them to chat up the citizens they serve.
2. Put the ticket booth between the only two food booths that it serves.
3. Have enough food.
4. Have enough servers so the lines are short.
5. Put all the booths on the street where they will be wheelchair accessible.
6. If you want crawfish and jambalaya, go someplace else.
7. If you want to donate to Operation Southern Comfort, mail a check.