New Orleans, LA - The first anniversary of one of the worst disasters (natural) to hit the US has caused many to peer into their retrospectroscopes in the hopes either of finding ways to improve crisis response (numerous Katrina authors), or ass cover (all politicians). No one, though, would have expected the innocuously named "Sewer and Water Board," with its affectionately acronymic "SWAB" moniker, to seek a name change.
SWAB will slip into history, to be replaced by the much more effective-sounding "Sewer and Water Index in Purity of Essence," or SWIPE.
According to the Director, Linda Le Ennui (her legal name), the change definitely was prompted by the Katrina aftermath: "We were happy with SWAB, as the locals endearingly called us, for, like, forever. We didn't mind THAT name because it sounded medical, like we take swabs of the water before we put it to your house, like a swab for Strep throat, or even a baby's ears being swabbed. You know, kind of sweet and sanitary at the same time."
"But," says Ennui, "now we get that flood showed EVERYWHERE on TV and all of a sudden people aren't saying ‘SWAB' anymore - no more cute and cuddly. Now all of a sudden they're making jokes about the ‘Board' part of our name and the ‘Water' part of our name and unfairly putting them together - WATERBOARD? US?!"
Ennui begins to sob. "Can you imagine? Here we are doing a good service all these years (sniff) and just because of a flood - the LEVEES did it, NOT (snort) us! We . . . it's really bad for morale."
She continued, blowing her nose in a lace handkerchief: "The Board HAD to change the name to get those two words out of there. SWIPE is better. Makes you think of swiping away dirt, right? Maybe swiping at our tears of anguish?" Ennui began to weep again.
The dozens of NOLA residents I interviewed, to a person, had a good laugh at the expense of the Board, though some quickly angered after their laughter faded. One man, asked to be anonymous, stated: "(HAhaha, sheeeeeit…) you ask me, a rose by any other name…All I know is they'll SWIPE our dollars by the boatload, no matter what they call themselves."
Nearly all of the residents pointed to the confluence (pun intended) of Katrina flood victims and the infamous interrogation technique. Said one resident without derisive laughter: "What would you call it when my sisters and brothers, my granny and even my dog are struggling to keep our heads above the nasty water, grabbing on to any old piece of a chiffarobe, no rescue in sight? Surfing?"