We have a new agent in the office who laughs when I tell him I should be at the office “around 11.” My mother brags about our contact with behind-the-scenes film crew members, and Jennifer has recently spent some time watching the filming of American Horror Story. In truth, working with corporate housing does have its perks… we enjoy weeks where all of our furnished condos are full, our tenants are content, our owners are satisfied with the income we produce, and work is just generally interesting and filled with people who appreciate our services. Don’t hate us… that’s not the whole story!
Our beautiful office on Camp Street is another perk. We rented a space that was a “fixer-upper” last summer, adding some new flooring, fresh paint, and new décor. Now it’s a cozy and attractive three-suite office with an enviable address, downtown between Poydras and Canal, in the heart of the business district. Since Jen and I both spend a lot of time thinking about our wardrobes, it gives us an excuse to dress up for work, eat in all those great nooks and crannies around the CBD and become familiar (i.e. “research”) all the interesting places our clients want to know about when they arrive in New Orleans.
When I describe my job, it sounds like a dream… and it kind of is. Our condo leasing company specializes in fully furnished corporate rentals, so we usually work with tenants who are coming into town to do something interesting… an internship at a hospital, a stay at the military base on a short-term assignment, making a movie, moving to New Orleans and looking for a permanent home, and some of our clients are artists, writers, etc. who come here to “find the Muse.” It’s rarely boring, and when you combine that with about 34 equally interesting owners of the condos we lease… that’s about sixty-eight fascinating people in our lives at any given time. What’s not to love?
Then sometimes I burst out laughing, seeing the underside of it all, which is not so glamorous, and thinking, “New Orleans is like my life; all fun and games on the outside, with some gritty infrastructure that’s kind of… out there.”
For instance… I come into the office around 11am each day, not because I’m asleep with my satin eye mask on, recovering from a night out. It’s because I have a four-year-old who can’t be dropped off at school until 8:30, then I go to the gym to meet my trainer. Aha! There’s the glamour… except that my trainer just texted me a picture of how she spent her weekend:
Yes, that’s a baby alligator. Kristine’s husband owns an alligator farm, so she spent the weekend hatching baby alligators and drinking to the good health of each new hatchling. She was a little under the weather Monday morning… so we pumped a little iron and discussed how busy we are at work.
Thanks goodness for weekends!
I, on the other hand, spent my weekend in Destrehan, which is where my “real life” is these days, and didn’t do anything very exciting at all. My husband’s boss’s daughter was in town, stayed in our condo in the city, and, as usual, enjoyed our glamorous life more than we did. Then again, she didn’t say much when my husband opened the first Bud Light at lunch time at the Ugly Dog Saloon. She seemed relieved to be “working” in New Orleans and doing things the way the locals do. Goodness knows, Bobby is good at orientation.
And lately at the office… the glamour has worn thin and we’ve stopped wearing pretty shoes – ever. And I’ve pretty much decided that my next car will not be a Mercedes, but a John Deere Gator. Yes, I mean it. It has become positively dangerous around the office.
Never mind the daily fear of being towed, booted, or ticketed. Never mind what you’ve heard about violence in the streets. Never mind the general dangers of driving in a city where we ALL love to pretend we work at NASCAR. The problem is actually under the city. I think in Florida they are calling them sinkholes. Here we call them pot holes… They seem much the same to me.
Call it what you want, our building is sinking. Our whole block is sinking. My car will eventually be swallowed up while I’m at work one day, and I just pray that the license tag number (and all the tickets associated therewith) will just disappear along with it. That would be nice.
No one believes me, in spite of the fact that cat-sized RATS have started jumping into and out of each new hole in the street, and the corners that frame the sidewalks have become so sloped I can hardly drive my car in the high-ground middle of Natchez street any more. So… I’ve been conducting an experiment. In early spring, this hole opened up wide enough to hold an upside-down vodka bottle. The bottle filled the hole nicely and I thought was a good solution to sinking asphalt in New Orleans. An appropriate fix:
Now, I can’t even take another picture to demonstrate what has happened. The surface hole is the same. The vodka bottle is no longer showing. That’s because the layer below the street has fallen down about three feet. This is true. If you look into that hole, you can now see the bottle, three feet down. And further scientific evidence is that there’s been a bubbling hole across the street from it, full of water that is clearly active. So. No more pretty shoes. No more Mercedes. Alligators being texted by my trainer… what next?
Oh! I know… farm animals in the office.
Wait. We’ve got that, too.