Differences Between New Orleans and New England, Round 1: Cars

This post will begin a short series about the differences I have found between my recent home of Nola and my childhood home of Noho.

My Car

I bought a car when I was in New Orleans. I spent my first year there commuting by bicycle, which was usually pretty great (a few potholes and flat tires notwithstanding), but after that I was ready to get where I was going on time, not be reliant on the terrible public transit system, venture to places not on a bus line, arrive everywhere not soaked in sweat, and not have to worry about how I was going to carry things. In the end it was a great decision – I was able to take on new leadership roles in my community as a result, and I was a little more punctual and a little less schwetty (and I joined a gym to make up for no more biking). It also meant that a whole new world of rules and bureaucracy was opened up to me!

Now with Massachusetts plates!

Now with Massachusetts plates!

Car Stuff in New Orleans

Registering my car in New Orleans was a pain, true. I had to get all the way out to Jefferson Parish or the West Bank – oh the horror! – but in the end it was over quickly with a minimal amount of annoyance. I thought I needed to get an inspection, but no, I needed to get a “brake tag.” (Add “brake tag” to the list of things that made me think I was a mewling infant in the world of Things Adults Know, Dummy. Turns out this list should have been called Things That Have Different Names in New Orleans And I Actually Am Somewhat Of An Adult, Thank You Very Much.)

My wiser-in-the-ways-of-New-Orleans roommate told me to get my brake tag at a gas station on S. Claiborne, in Central City – which, Central City being one of my all-time favorite neighborhoods, I happily agreed to. Turns out I had a brake light out, but I WAS PASSED ANYWAY.

“You’ll get that taken care of right away, okay?” the brake tag guy said, peering down at diminutive new car owner me.

“Oh yes, I will do that in exactly 11 months,” I assured him. Actually no, I lied and said, “Oh yes, right away,” but the former was the truth.

Car Stuff in New England

A year later, I register my car in Massachusetts (it’s called an RMV up here, add that to the list)  and ask my grandparents where I can go to get a brake tag. This is how the conversation went.

“A brake tag? What is that?”

“You know, where they check out your brakes, and then even if some of your brake lights are out if everything’s working, they give you a sticker for your windshield.”

“You mean an inspection?”


So I toddle off to get my inspection, happy in the knowledge that I had fixed the one thing that was wrong last time. Turns out, NO. There are several things wrong with my car! And these are things that I truly believe have not been working since before I got the car. (For instance, I do not think I ever had a functioning license plate light. Yes, apparently there is a license plate light, and NO ONE IN NEW ORLEANS CARES.)

And then of course I had to do waaaay more paperwork at the Massachusetts DMV  – I mean RMV – than I ever had to do in Nola. I also had to put a second license plate on the front, a task which thoroughly confounded me.

In conclusion, thank you, New Orleans. Your laxity when it comes to car safety and bureaucracy has thoroughly spoiled me for vehicle ownership anywhere else.

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2 Responses to Differences Between New Orleans and New England, Round 1: Cars

  1. Pingback: Differences Between New Orleans and New England, Round 3: Gay People! | The Sandpiper: A Travelogue Blog

  2. Pingback: How I Became Illegal | A Rambling Wanderer in the Maghreb

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