On several occasions during my tenure with the Johnson Space Center in Houston, I was directed to travel to Michoud, Louisiana where the space shuttle’s external tanks are built. Michoud is really a suburb of New Orleans and if you go there today, you’ll see that the exit from I-10 that used to take you to Michoud goes right off of the interstate and spirals right down into the swamp… and that was before the hurricane. I have no idea what’s left of Michoud today, but I can tell you the person I hope the best for is Laverne.
Laverne ran a Cajun restaurant called, “Laverne’s Soul Food Café.” Actually, it was more of a shed than a restaurant. There were no menus, only a big blackboard. Whatever Laverne cooked up that day was what she would write on the board: “Red Beans and Rice with Rib Tips” or “Chicken and Sausage Gumbo with Cornbread.” If you were interested, you paid Laverne $5 (cash only) and you sat your butt down in front of a plate on a loooooong picnic table. When it was time (usually around 12:15pm) she would walk around pushing a service cart with a big ol’ pot and scoop, and she’d dish you up a plate of the day’s special. It was always incredible. If you cleaned your plate, you could turn it upside down and Laverne would return in 30 minutes to serve pie. You never knew what pie was coming, Pecan, Sweet Potato, etc, but it was always delicious and you only got a slice if you finished your lunch. No exceptions.
I loved Laverne’s. It was quick, simple, easy, predictable, and it always worked out for the best. Even when you passed out at your desk an hour later, you couldn’t wait to go back and try it again. Thank God we didn’t have cell phones back then or word would have spread throughout the land on Jambalaya Day and I wouldn’t have gotten a seat!
Few things in life are as predictable and easy anymore. One is though, I love me some Fedex Kinko’s! It seems that every other business trip I take, I need a book, a printed file, or some other reference material that is tucked safely at home in my filing cabinet rather than the folds of my briefcase. Well, one time this happened and I had a PDF version of the file with me but it was 246 pages long and I needed a printed copy to teach a class. Enter Kinko’s. If you browse to their website, you’ll learn that you can literally “Print” from your laptop to any Kinko’s in the world. You choose the parameters, pay the total, and presto; all you have to do now is walk in and pick it up. Easy. Predictable. Delicious…
Now, I tend to file pretty much everything electronically. I print or save everything to PDF and I file it away. Archives go to memory sticks, current stuff lives in a folder on my desktop. If anyone needs a printed white paper, an archived article, a receipt, whatever, I can print to Kinko’s and get it. Maybe someday they’ll invent a travel printer than can handle a 200 page load. Until then, there’s Kinko’s.
I haven’t been back to Michoud since the hurricane, but I hope Laverne is OK. I think about her everytime I smell Jambalaya… and now, every time I print to Kinko’s. Long live Laverne!