I won’t be working full time on the buggies any more. Those six months were like going to a foreign land, only I got to come home and crash every evening. I made friends with some fine mules and fascinating drivers, artists, mimes and street performers, bums, street characters and guests. I learned to give punchy sound-bite type tours in 30-40 minutes instead of 2 hours. The quick buggy tours of 1/2 or 1 hour let my guests see much more than they could in my two-hour walking tour. It’s enough time to give some great details about the Quarter and St. Louis cemetery, New Orleans history -- past, present, and future, our culture, architecture and cuisine. It’s especially good for people who are in a hurry, the physically impaired, or folks with little ones that would be bored on the long walking tour but are thrilled to ride the cart, especially from the shotgun seat.
My old life was good too. I am fortunate that I could put it all aside to do this great adventure. I met my goal: I know I can turn my life around on a dime. I proved that at 75 I still have plenty of starch left in me, and according to my guests, I gave a great tour. I now know I could be a good tour guide just about any interesting place in the world.
Recently, I have been taking some of my out-of-town guests on buggy rides with another driver. Every chance I get, I walk the hack stand before 10am, when most of the buggies are all lined up waiting. I love all the mules and drivers, I always will. It was a great experience... proving to myself, after 14 years, that I could enjoy working full time again and make a pretty good living doing it... if necessary. But this is mostly an avocation, I don't really need more money.
My interest in mules and donkeys has led me into some in-depth study of these wonderful critters on Wikipedia. I may post some details of my research here in later postings. Some part of me will always be a buggy driver!
Being a good mule is being willing to take take others' burdens. At some level, we have all been mules and often found the burdens satisfying.