Saturday, September 03, 2005

The New Normal

Things are sort of settling down in to a bit of a routine. Things are different though, and who knows how long it'll be before things are back to the old normal. The main change that impacts my life is lack of phone services. It's hard to get a land line out. My cell phone more often than not doesn't work. So as a consequence you have to physically go to whoever or whatever you need to get in touch with. That leads to gas usage which I'm really trying to avoid.

It's difficult to get gas. Most stations don't have any. A lot of stations seems like they just shut down for the interim. When a station does get a shipment in, it's a huge frenzy. Word of mouth travels FAST. This morning I was bringing drinks to my drop off point that will be brought to the police officers at the River Center. A friend of mine is working there and she said they aren't able to eat lunch so my stitching circle is providing lunch for them. Anyway, as I was passing Exxon I noticed a fuel truck driving up. I wondered if I should wait and be the first one in line to fill up. I decided not to and ran my errands and came back. There were a bunch of people there, but this station was smart and imposed a $30 limit so the lines were moving fast and attendants were directing people so they could get through as fast as possible. I really hope more stations implement the $30 limit because that moves the line along so much faster. You don't get people that are stockpiling the gas and buying $300 worth at a time. I will say that I am really happy that gas prices in my area are staying reasonably low. $2.59/gal at two of the local gas stations.

We need to go grocery shopping, we have enough milk to last us through today, but we have no meat other than spam and vienna sausages. I went Thursday to Winn Dixie and it was bizarre. They had a few packages of hamburger, no produce whatsoever, no chips whatsoever, no eggs, no deli meats, they had about 3 dozen gallons of milk, all their ice cream was melted. They had a lot of stuff like cake mixes and hamburger helper, but they don't have things like eggs or butter or whatever else you might need to make those types of things. There are so many more people here and the grocery stores just don't seem able yet to keep up with the present demand. Plus, I think a lot of people are in that depressed eating phase now. I noticed a lot of people buying large amounts of chocolate in any form they can get it.

People are on edge about so many things. Friday when I picked up Eva at daycare, the manager had just finished up a conversation with one of the parents and she started talking to me about how a lot of parents were mad because they didn't know they were open, the poor woman just broke down crying. I felt so bad for her, because it's not her fault. Their general policy is that if the public schools are closed, they are too. Well, the public schools are closed until Tuesday. They had power though and a lot of people around here don't, so they opened so that they kids would have somewhere cool to spend the day. I called first thing Wednesday morning and found out they were open. That day they put a huge sign in the windows saying they were open. If you drove by you'd see that there are a bunch of cars in the parking lot. It was obvious that they were open if you made the effort to find out. Well, these parents didn't and they were taking it out on her. Everywhere I go people are telling me to be careful and lock my doors and watch out for all the new criminals. What if I wasn't local? What if I was someone from New Orleans? How the hell do you think that would make me feel? People need to think about what they're saying. I know they're just watching out for me, but by saying things like that and acting like scared little kittens, you're just making morale worse.

I now take every back road and side street I can. On the main thoroughfares, traffic is soooo bad. Baton Rouge metro area had bad traffic problems already. We don't have the infastructure to support the people that we have. Now we just got 100,000+ more cars on the streets.

The new normal consists of police everywhere. Their presence in this area is amazing. I never knew there were so many, and I'm sure there are many that are pulling many many extra shifts.

The new normal consists of helicopters overhead constantly. Our house must be under the flight path or something. It's not unusual to see 5 or 6 passing at any one time.

The new normal smells bad. I don't know what the storm blew in, but everywhere I go things just smell terrible. Garbage pick up is very unpredictable. We were told our garbage was supposed to be picked up Tuesday. Just as I was leaving this morning (Saturday) they garbage truck was passing. Being as hot and as humid as it is, the garbage starts smelling pretty bad really quick. Anyway, I'm really glad they showed up. Our can (those big huge cans for the automated trucks) was overflowing and the garbage cans inside were at capacity and I hadn't even started throwing out all the spoiled food in the freezer.

If this is as bad as it's going to get, it's ok. Attitudes will be adjusted and things will get along fine. I keep thinking about that part in Clueless when Cher is doing her debate about the Haitians and equating it to a dinner party with too many guests. We'll rearrange the tables and cook up some more food and everything will be great.


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Sharon said...

Hugs to you Autumn. If there is anything I can do from Dallas, please let me know!

Anonymous said...

You know I've been sick with worry when I not only come out of the woodwork to check on you, but leave a comment. :) You and your family are in my thoughts.
Love, Melissa

Kristen said...

I have been talking with friends of Jons who are being "relocated" to Baton Rouge (they lived near Pontchatrain somewhere) and they have been told to go ahead and rent out apartments if they can (because it will be months before they will be able to move back). They are very frustrated being in an unfamiliar area and they mentioned how tempers have flared on more than one occasion and the difficulty of getting anything (food, supplies etc).
Keep patient and remind kind. The people being relocated there have lost most everything and all they have left is there spirit. Take care and give everyone a hug & kiss for me!