This is always a sad time of year for me. On one hand it's Carnival and part of the reason I moved to New Orleans was the pit stop on my way to L.A. was to include Superbowl, Mardi Gras, and Jazzfest, well it was too much fun to leave. One of the first friends I made here, during Mardi Gras, was taken from us in a still unsolved crime. Basically it was a hit and run or vehicular manslaughter late on the Saturday night before Mardi Gras. I fear the driver doesn't even remember his actions after ten too many drinks. Nonetheless black pick up trucks with tinted windows will always enrage me if they act the slightest bit out of line.

I will be going to Disney World this year with my fiancee's family but I do want to give out a few public service messages for those enjoying themselves.

One, this Mardi Gras season don't get behind the wheel drunk, impaired, or even tired. It's an oft-repeated and much ignored message now but still an important one. It may take forever to get a cab but it's better than sitting in the drunk tank, hurting yourself, or someone else. I know of two incidences where drivers were drunk but "O.K." to drive and got hit by somebody else. Guess what, there is no "O.K." on the breathalyzer and if you are the slightest bit over you bear responsibility even if you did nothing wrong. Not to mention, I know of two other incidents where the driver didn't deserve to get pulled over and still got the DUI on his record. Don't do it for your own sake if not for somebody else's. There will be random roadblocks again this year.

Two, after the parades be vigilant. We all know that driving around late night you always have to have one eye watching out for the unexpected as too many people drive way too drunk. During Mardi Gras be even more so. Expect the unexpected and don't cross a street thinking the driver will slow down. This time of year the opposite is true. Be aware of your surroudings at all times.

Three, put your camera phones to use. If somebody seems to be out of control take a photo. If you don't know them, and can't approach them, and you see them getting into a car too intoxicated, take a photo of their liscense plate too. If you do know them obviously, don't let them do it. Camera phones are a great tool that people forget about. Recently, I parked my car in the only open spot in a lot next to this large pickup truck that was basically stradling the line to my spot. I gave the guy wide berth and parked real close to the other car. When I got back, there was a huge dent on my car, beer all over it, and the crushed beer can laying next to it. The driver of the truck drove into my door as he was turning to get out of his spot. I guess he thought it was my fault as his road cola was splashed all over my car and no note was left with his information. Lesson learned. Anytime I park next to an ass like that I take a picture of his plate.

Four, don't get involved with strangers. Discreation is the better part of valor. You don't know who you are dealing with. Don't enrage randoms or engage drunks. There is nothing to prove, they won't remember it anyway so just practice avoidance. Truly the tougher guy is the guy that can walk away.

Five, pay attention to Crimestoppers alerts and be aware of your surroundings. If somebody had noticed the plate of that truck that was driving suspicisously before he hit my friend there would be a little less heartache for everybody that loved my friend. Unfortunately, this Mardi Gras there probably will be another incident similar in nature so be aware of what's going on. If you see a guy driving wildly make a mental note, if not the plate a bumper sticker or dent or something, and check the papers the next day. Call the Crimestoppers number and help out.

Most of these tips, should be rules to live by outside of Mardi Gras season but especially so now. I'm putting up a link to Crimestoppers on the GCP site. First and foremost enjoy Mardi Gras, the company of your family and your friends, but be responsible and be alert.

For those that can afford it, a donation to Crimestoppers is a worthwhile gift that helps your immediate community. I learned how hard Darlene and the rest of the staff works on the behalf of others. They are a compassionate and tireless group and not one you'd think about when it comes to charity but they should be.


Jessica said…
You are a very strong person. I love you. I'm very sorry for your loss.

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