The 21 habits of highly effective New Orleanians


Everyone knows that New Orleans is a fun town. That’s a world-famous gimme. You also probably know that there’s amazing food, nightlife, and music, too, not to mention an ingrained, intractable attitude of celebratory weirdness and passion you won’t find in any other city on the face of the Earth. That said, it might be surprising to know that some people are simply better at being New Orleanians than others. Here’s what the most awesome among us are doing right, and how you can at least attempt to be as fantastic as they are:

1. They are helpful to tourists
Yep. A tough one for some. But like the service industry, New Orleans wouldn’t be what it is without tourism, and we’re thankful for it. If you need help with directions or similar information, natives are almost unfailingly happy to help. And if your information request involves food, you might want to settle in for a long conversation.

2. They also embrace the fact that Carnival season ensures glitter is EVERYWHERE
You can’t escape it. It’s going to wind up on your clothes, your skin, probably in your breakfast cereal, and it’s nearly impossible to completely get rid of. So you may as well just accept that fact and be happy that you’re in a place in which this isn't necessarily considered a problem.

NOLA traffic
Flickr/Gary J. Wood

3. They wave people through in traffic
This might seem like a trivial detail, but it’s not. With a lackluster public transit system (to say the least), there are a lot of drivers sharing the pothole-riddled roads of the Crescent City. And since it’s too hot for road rage, just letting somebody in ahead of you is an easy way to love thy New Orleans neighbor.

4. They treat service folks kindly
Being rude to your waiter isn’t going to make you look like a big shot in the Big Easy. In fact, it’s just the opposite; doing so is considered a deeply grave faux pas here, one that will have people questioning your parents’ parenting skills, no matter how old you are. The service industry is vital to this city, and so are the people who make that industry hum. 

5. They own more than one wig
Surprising? Well, in a city like this, you never know when a good costume will be suddenly necessary, and that all starts with the wig.

6. They know their neighbors
There are weird parts of America in which people live and go about their daily routines while consciously avoiding the people who live closest to them. New Orleans is not one of those places.

7. They are experts at hurricane preparedness and evacuation
The threat of city-wide annihilation by divine wrath is very real and serious here. Hurricane parties can be a blast, but the best of us know when and how to get out of town when a big one is building in the Gulf, and they also have plenty of fresh water, food, and booze to see them through whatever happens.

8. They say hello to one another
Even if -- no, especially if -- they don’t know each other. If you’re walking down the street in New Orleans and you’re not greeted by a handful of “Aw-right”s and “How you doin'”s, you might have something very alarming going on with your appearance. So you should probably have that checked out.


9. They love the Saints
Because there isn’t really fair weather in New Orleans, there should be no fair-weather fans. QED. We bleed black and gold through thick and thin (lest we forget the bag-head days of the “Aints”), and never forget to bless our boys. The Pelicans and the Zephyrs are also pretty great, but sadly, they lack Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, and the spectacularly bearded Rob Ryan.

10. They avoid the perils of the French Quarter
Generally the chintzy souvenir shops, street hustlers, and most of Bourbon St, and specifically the unspeakably toxic brew that fills the 300-year-old potholes, among other things.

11. They do not avoid or shun parishes that are not Orleans
Living in the Marigny or the Garden District or Mid-City is awesome, but every now and again, you’ll find yourself headed to the West Bank, Metairie, or Kennah (brah). There are actually some great things to be found there. It’s true. You should seek them out.

12. They know what it means...
“To miss New Orleans”, or so the song goes. The best New Orleanians, it turns out, are almost always ones that, even despite this city’s numerous (and often very public) flaws, couldn’t possibly imagine living anywhere else.

13. ... but they don’t pester native New Orleanians with diatribes about “what New Orleans is”
If you’re a transplant to NOLA from somewhere that is not NOLA (and hence not nearly as wonderful, of course), we’re happy to have you! You’re what helps make New Orleans the fastest-growing city in the nation. But don’t think that because you moved here after Katrina and have lived in Bywater for four whole years that you’re some kind of expert on what makes this city what it is. 

14. They have a partying transportation game plan
Drunk driving is NOT cool. Getting home safely is VERY cool. Awesome New Orleanians know how to have a great time all night long without doing something as stupid as getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are toasted. Also, cabbies usually have great stories.

15. They hold their hooch
It’s like a mantra in New Orleans that drinking here is a marathon, not a sprint. We don’t get wasted early in the night by doing seven tequila shots and then projectile vomiting on the dance floor before the main act even takes the stage. 

16. They support the arts
Whether it’s the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the folk artist who lives up the block, or that weird guy who is producing an all transgender bounce rap opera about Huey P. Long, excellent New Orleanians dig the local arts scene.

Flickr/Larry Johnson

This needs no further explanation.

18. They know how to make a roux
This is how good things always begin in these parts. If someone knows how to properly execute a roux without burning it, it’s a certainty that whatever follows is going to be pretty spectacular. If you’ve ever experienced a real crawfish étouffée, you’ll agree.

19. They bring beer
There are few events in life that cannot be improved upon by showing up with a cooler of cold beer -- parades, crawfish boils, Little League games, you name it. Highly effective New Orleanians know this.

20. They embrace the heat
This is a place where 92 degrees and 75% humidity is considered a mild August day. No one wants to hear someone else whine about the heat... we’re hot, too. We’re in this together. Instead of complaining, how about offering me some of that cold beer (see above)? Or better still, a daiquiri or a frozen Irish coffee?

21. They are super-fantastic at celebrating Mardi Gras
There are rules to the greatest free party in the world, and the best of the best know them by heart. You should, too.

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