“How are you doing?”
“No, Superman does good; you’re doing well”
So goes the old exchange that quickly provides the context of good versus well, and how one should really use them properly. Among the titles New Orleans carries, The City that Care Forgot remains very real despite the influx of the educated and employed. And you can see it almost anywhere.
Just yesterday as I passed the Uptown / Lake corner of Magazine and Napoleon, right where there’s a field for Laurence Square, I noted a demolished collection of blue plastic shards and black and silver metal mangled, once a phone booth strewn across the city sidewalk but with a touch of caution tape and orange and white striped caution folding pylon, whatever you call those things. And I just thought, “That’s ridiculous.” At the center of a buzzing intersection in the shadow of open businesses, parks, schools, a library, and even a police precinct: this (dating back to April 10).
We can’t remove it proper or I’m too busy to really address this, goes the thought process, so we’ll just put a little flare on it so passersby will know this is here. Really!?
When Coach Sean’s stern countenance was recently circulated in various media while absent from the Saints along with the words emblazoned “Do Your Job,” I always thought “Hey, that’s great. Almost.” Whatever happened to qualifiers? Why not just add ‘well’ there at the end. Doing your job is one thing, but how are you doing it? Enough? Perfectly? How about just go with well? Four little extra letters can go a long way. Plus I think it better conveys the message intended.
I have a colleague a few years my senior I greatly admire who’s the bee’s knees at storytelling, including relaying the latest jokes he’s heard. He’s dynamite, and he’s always got one more before he goes. Once he showed me his business card, and on it he proudly pointed out it read “Serving clients well since – – – ” whatever year it was. I laughed, and because I respect this man, I pointed out “Well, wait. What did you do before that year? Serve them poorly?” He laughed, stammered, but that was that. He got me, he gets it, and while he hasn’t changed his card, my point is taken.
Last week as I walked the 2500 block of Jena I noticed the unmistakable seasonal yellow flower petals strewn across the ground beneath an Entergy power pole. They’d blossomed and were falling away to ground, the vine itself hugging the transformer with legs going in all directions. In the morning sunlight it grabbed me visually so I snapped a pic of it and tweeted:
— JeanPaulVillere (@JeanPaulVillere) April 23, 2014
And do you know within a few hours someone from the Entergy media department called me to inquire where exactly my pic was taken so they may investigate it, see if it’s a hazard. I was shocked that anyone official cared, but take note: she didn’t sound local.
Right now people, we’re serving our clients (read: ourselves) poorly. Because there’s always a reason to do or not to do something. And while people can rationalize anything, your job is still your job, and if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well, yes? With all this new blood pouring into the Crescent City, between the entrepreneurial set, Hollywood types, and medical practitioners, my hope is the ‘not my job’ culture can be fixed along with all the other deficiencies we too often mistake for charm or endearment. But I’m not convinced. Yet. Maybe the media department at Entergy can help out, but then that isn’t their job.
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.