There are a lot of jerks that will come up to you and start a conversation. Your common sense says to ignore them.. and you are right. Just walk on by.
There are this men that will come up and tell you that they can bet you where you got your shoes. The punch line is "right here on the street in New Orleans".
There are so many people that are out to con you in the streets of NOLA. Try not to carry too much cash and don't trust people that become too chatty. Just walk on by and let them go on to the next sucker.
Unfortunately, New Orleans has a large number of homeless and/or seedy people who live in and around the tourist areas, and they like to harass tourists and locals alike. A common scam is to approach a "mark" and make a bet, along the lines of "I betcha I can tell you where you got them shoes." Once you engage them, even dismissively ("I can't even remember where..."), they have you hooked. They will talk you into agreeing to let them tell you where you where, indeed, you got your shoes. The unarguable answer will be: on your feet, on the street, in New Orleans. Most likely, this is the point where they will inform you that you now must pay them $20 for the "lesson" - and this last part is definitely meant to sound intimidating.
Best to not engage - just walk away.
If a stranger on the streets makes a bet with you and says (something to the effect), "I bet you ("x" Dollars) I know where you got your shoes at!" Do not reply with an answer and walk away immediately! The con artist says, "On the ground - now pay up." Several tourists have been hit by thugs who play this fools game and did not want to pay. Live and learn.
Some of the more derelict locals like to ask tourist to let them guess where they got their shoes at for some money. Now the way the way they phrase the question would probably lead you to think that they would never guess Footlocker in Edison, NJ. But being that you're in the Good Ol' South, they mean where you got your shoes at right now. And they usually answer either New Orleans, the street you're standing on or your feet. And technically, they'd be right.
Usually you can just ignore them and they'll leave you alone.
Don't start a conversation with them unless you're feeling pretty bold. In which case, I offer the following line: "You should really guess where I got my shoes at in 10 seconds.... Let me give you a hint..... your ass!" (Not recommended when they're in groups of two or more:)
Neither warning nor danger, I consider the "I betcha I can tell ya where you get dem shoes," trick more of a street act than a danger or something that warrants a warning. The act: For a rather nominal fee a man or a woman will offer to tell you where "you got your shoes". His response to his query? "You got 'dem shoes on your feet." A simple pun for a little fun.
While minding your own business, walking around by the quarter or other areas in the city, you will probably at least one time run into someone who wants to "entertain" you by telling you that they bet that they know where you "got dem shoes". This has happened before to me while I was showing some friends around New Orleans. The question normally comes wih a bet... a few dollars, and the answer is always, "Right there on yo feet on xyz street in Nawlins!", which, how can you argue, that is where you have your shoes. So if you take up the bet, be prepared to shell out a few bucks. Better yet, when someone asks, just say "I got em on ma feets".
Like any high traffic tourist town, New Orleans has it's share of swindlers ... offering a free hat and then asking for religious donations or the youth saying "I bet I can tell you where you got those shoes" when the answer is they are in New Orleans. Just use your head and you'll be fine.
If someone tries to stop you on Bourbon St...even if they are acting friendly... it's best to just smile and keep walking. Do not even engage with them AT ALL. Someone stopped us acting all friendly and before we knew it we were hit with the "I bet I can tell you where you got 'dem shoes" scam. Of course I knew that the answer was "On my feet on Bourbon St" but instead of just walking away immediately as we should have, we stood there and let her (yes...HER) pull the "I bet I can spell your last name" scam out of the bag. When I didn't respond she drooped down and "shined" my tennis shoes and demanded money. I gave her a dollar and she got up in my face and said that wasn't enough. She was kinda scary so my husband gave her another dollar and she walked on. We learned a big lesson from this. Do not allow yourself to be put in this situation. If someone you don't know tries to stop you or talk to you...don't let them. Act like you don't speak English if you have to...just don't give them an opportunity to do this to you.
Shoe Shinners! They'll pour oil all over your shoes, shine them for 10 seconds then expect a 2 dollar tip. They are agressive and pushy. Don't stop and give them your time! You'll see them especially on Bourbon Street.
Stick to well lit areas. Travel in groups. Don't let anyone in the quarter that you don't know stop you, they are probably scam artists. The most common scam is for a person to bet you an amount of money they know where you got your shoes and when. Answer: 'On yo feet, and in Nawlins.' Just be aware of your surroundings and you'll be fine.
The first time I was in New Orleans, we encountered so many beggars and panhandlers that my mother deicided she never wanted to go back ever again. In fact, that's about all she remembers of the trip! During this trip, we did not find so many people asking for money, so much as people tricking you out of your money. Our first night in the French Quarter, a guy made a bet with us that he couldn't tell us where we got our shoes (he even had some kind of pink slimy shoe polish and 'shined' our sneakers). The trick is, 'you got your shoes on your feet!' This one can cost you big...ten or twenty bucks if you give him what he wants.
During our last night in the French Quarter, we were walking through Bourbon St (just to say we had, I usually hate crowds and Bourbon St. on a Friday night is just one big crowd) and decided to stop in Marie Louveau's Voodoo Shop. On our way out, a little black man with a big stick offered to bless our union with a voodoo blessing since we looked so good together. Of course, a few dollars would make sure the spirits gave us a good blessing instead of cursing us...if you know what I mean.
The vote for the gutsiest request for money definitely goes to the guy sitting on the sidewalk, strumming a guitar, and singing, 'Please just give me money so I can go buy some drugs.'
So, basically, keep an eye on your wallet and your brains with you and you will be fine.
At the end of Canel St . just on the out side of the French Quarter it turns into inner city Ghetto. Stay away . Don't walk alone avoid the side streets night or day pick pockets and con artist every where. The lastest con is someone comes up to you and says he lilkes your shoes and bets you $ he can tell you where you got them. Your reply should be 'I got them on my feet on Canel St. ( or where ever you are standing)
Thank you to everyone who put this as a warning. Several people asked us "I bet I know where you got your shoes". it was nice to be aware and have a snappy comeback when I was asked. It is funny the first time, but get's very annoying after several times. Usually a harmless game, but be careful if they start to follow you are be persistent.
IF you are friendly and give people the time of day when they address you, then unfortunately , you might be scammed. The culprits usually travel in groups so becareful. I dont intend to be prejudice towards the city being a minority myself but in the case , "what you hear is true".