I parallel parked with, I thought, impressive efficiency, quickly getting out of the way of a pickup pulling a trailer, but the truck slowed to a stop alongside me and a college-age white guy in the passenger seat motioned for me to roll down my window. “Hey, man,” the scraggly kid said, motioning vaguely behind us, speaking in a mock-sorrowful tone, “I think some nigger must’ve put an Obama bumper sticker on your car.”

I gave them the bird as they drove off.

For a long second the anger percolated. I told myself to let it go, to take the it’s-not-worth-it-and-walk-away route, but doing nothing, in that moment, seemed untenable, even wrong. I felt I had to act, to do something, almost anything. I needed to make an impression on these assholes. I didn’t know what I would say or do, but I pulled out into traffic and chased after them.

route from freret and jefferson to claiborne and carrollton copy for realIt took me almost 2 miles but I caught them at the intersection of Claiborne and Carrollton avenues, idling at a red light. I eased up alongside them and rolled down my window.

“I just wanted to make sure you two stupid motherfuckers were leaving Orleans Parish,” I said.

They pointed ahead to Jefferson Parish.

I noted they seemed to be transporting lawn cutting equipment. “So, you guys are lawn boys, huh?”

They stared silently at me, clearly not enjoying my connotative play.

“Lawn boys, that’s all you are. A couple lawn boys.”

In this fashion I proceeded to berate and belittle them. At one point, by way of defense, one of the guys blurted, “(Obama’s) ruining the country!” and I shot back, “And you two cracker jackasses are going to fix it?”

I said they were cutting lawns probably because they were too stupid to finish college, and we back and forth about that for a bit, it seemed to be a soft spot, and as they pulled away when the light turned green, the guy in the passenger seat had a good portion of his body out the window to yell back at me, pumping his fist, “I will finish college!”

The ugly monsters in these guys released the ugly monster in me.

I chased after them with burning need to cause them psychic pain. I resorted to shameful class-based put-downs. I wrote them off as people and only wanted to make these assholes think twice about pulling such a stunt again, at least in New Orleans. 

But by meeting hate with hate I only fed the monsters, mine and theirs.

Derek Bridges lives in New Orleans, trading in words and pictures. A carpetbagger of long standing, he grew up in the top right corner of IL and later went to college in the middle cornfield part. He has also lived in MS and FL, for educational purposes only, and was diasporized for a time in TX.

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