Shreveport Short Stories
Photo Caption: The world’s worst taxi driver — in Bossier City, LA
Sitting here at the Shreveport Airport waiting on my flight.
Decided to post a few short stories from my two week stay in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. There are short and sweet. Here it goes:
STORY 1 — THE ACCIDENTAL HITCHHIKER
At 3:30 am last night, I’d wrapped up my work assignment at the World Series of Poker Circuit, which took place at Horseshoe Bossier City. Hotel was about a mile walk away from the casino. It’s dark. It’s quiet. There are no cars on the street.
I’m dressed in a dark business suit, and wheeling a small suitcase behind with several items I use while on the road — computer, printer, cameras, cables, etc.
The sight of a 50-year-old bearded man rumbling down the sidewalk of Bossier City, Louisiana at 3:30 am towing a suitcase is rather uncommon. I “stood out” from the crowd, you might say.
As I walked along the poorly-lit road, a car pulled up next to me.
“Need a lift?”
I’m a bit surprised by the sound of a human voice, which seemed to come out of nowhere. I glance up and it appears to be Paul Oresnteen, from Poker News. I had just seen Paul hours earlier covering the WSOP. He even mentioned he had a rental car.
Music to my ears, I wheeled my suitcase around the other side of the car, threw the case in the back seat, and then hopped in front.
Something was strange about the situation. I found it very odd that this rental car seemed so trashed. There were soda cans all over the floorboard. The car seats were filled with dirty clothes and newspapers. The car didn’t even seem that new. Maybe he got it from Rent-a-Wreck.
Remember, it’s very dark.
I start speaking without even looking up. You now how it is when you’re sitting in the front seat — you don’t turn and face the person you’ve speaking to. You look straight ahead at the road. But I can tell the man is somewhat big and stocky. He’s has a beard — just like Paul.
“So, where are you off to next, Paul?” I ask.
The man who’s giving me the free list seems to misunderstand the question and says he’s going to get something to eat. His voice sounds a little strange.
I look up and suddenly realize — it’s not Paul!
“Oh, I…………….I, thought you were someone else. Uhhhhhh…………”
“Yeah man, I was wondering why you were calling me ‘Paul,” the man replies.
At this point, I’m confused. I try to make out his face. Seems kinda’ familiar. Maybe an off-duty poker dealer. Maybe a player that recognized me. I’m trying to get my bearings here at 3:30 am in a dark car with someone who appears to be a complete stranger.
“Sorry, I thought you were someone else.”
The man doesn’t seem to pay any of this much attention. I proceed to give him directions to the Courtyard Marriott. Of course, he misses a turn, which only adds to the five minutes of awkwardness.
I basically have no clue who this guy is. But I assume he must know me, and for this I am thankful.
Finally, we pull up in front of my hotel and just as he gets ready to stop he asks, “So what are you doing in town?”
Now, I realize this man had no idea who I am. He had no idea what I do at the casino. He didn’t know my name.
I provide some vague half-ass answer, shake the man’s hand politely, and depart the vehicle with my bag.
Back in my room, I got to thinking about the bizarre incident.
Then, it hit me. The man was just being nice. He saw someone on the road who could use a lift and he was kind enough to stop and assist. It took him perhaps ten minutes out of his way. But he did this purely as an act of kindness.
I think this man, whose name I do not know, symbolizes the good people of Shreveport, and of many people in the South. For all their peculiarities, many are just very nice people who go out of their way to help others.
Just call me “the accidental hitchhiker.”
STORY II — TALK ABOUT “CONSERVATIVE”
This is probably the most conservative part of the country, in just about every way one can imagine. They go to church. They vote Republican. They watch FOX News (side note — just about every television in a public place is turned either to FOX News or a football game).
This morning, as I departed my hotel room, I walked down the hallway past the maid. You know how these hallways are — with the maid cart parked in the middle of path. I try to squeeze by with a couple of bags in tow.
As I’m maneuvering my way around the bulky art, I see the maid cleaning the room. She’s a 60-year-old Black woman.
On the cart, the woman has a radio playing. There’s a commercial.
A few seconds later some intro music starts playing. Then, I hear the most evil voice on the planet.
It’s Rush Limbaugh!
I have to stop and do a double-take. A Black hotel maid is listening to Rush Limbaugh?
Now, that’s what I call a conservative area.
STORY III — HOW DO I GET TO THE AIRPORT?
This one is really hard to believe. But it just happened less than an hour ago. In fact, were it not for this ridiculous story, I probably wouldn’t be writing today’s post.
A taxi is called to take me from the Courtyard Marriott in Bossier City to the Shreveport Airport.
Twenty minutes later, a mini-van pulls up.
Oddly enough, the driver doesn’t even bother to get out, even though I have a fair amount of cargo. He just sits there and pops the rear door and leaves to me alone hunker my own 50-pound bags into the back. Okay — whatever.
I get in and the driver asks where I’m going.
“To the airport,” I say.
“Which one,” he asks.
“Which one? The one with the planes — hell I don’t know.”
“We have two airports,” he insists.
“I think it’s called the Shreveport Airport,” say. ”It’s like 7 or 8 miles from here. I think.”
“Is that the one next to the interstate?’ the taxi driver asks.
What is this? A joke? Now I’ve got to give a taxi driver directions to the airport?
“I really don’t know,” I respond “I don’t live here. Which airport has all the major airlines.?”
“I think that’s Shreveport,” he responds.
“Well, I feel like gambling today. It’s a fifty-fifty shot. Let’s take our chances on Shreveport!”
“Yeah, that’s probably it,” the driver says. “Let me ask you — is it big?”
“What, do you mean the airport?”
“Yeah — is the airport the big one?”
At this point, I’m staring out the window speechless. I mean “big” as in what? Hey, it’s not Heathrow! We’re in Bossier City, Louisiana for crissakes!
“I guess. They have American and Delta and United.” Note: I’m tempted to explain the airport is the place that has all the giant buses with wings, but I don’t think this man has much of sense of humor.
“Yeah, that would be Shreveport,” the taxi drive bruskly informs. “Next time you’re here, just tell the driver you need to go to the Shreveport Airport.”
I’m sitting here in shock. NOTE TO SELF — NOLAN, IF YOU’RE EVER IN BOSSIER CITY, LOUISIANA AGAIN AND YOU NEED TO CATCH A FLIGHT, INSTRUCT DRIVER THE DESTINATION IS THE “SHREVEPORT AIRPORT.”
Consider this a public service announcement.
Which now brings this series of stories full circle? Where’s the guy who looks like Paul Orensteen who picked me up at 3:30 am? Next time, can I get him to take me to the airport?