It should be noted that I have touched upon this phenomenon here and here, and I have made several pointed references at many other times to the general lack of manners and civility that seems to be a way of life down here, but it seems to have reached a boiling point. Every line, every traffic light, every crowded locale, and every eating experience has become a new adventure in F@#* You! At first I wondered if it was as basic a cultural problem as the difference between Americans and Canadians. (I will attempt to elucidate this point without stumbling into the mass generalizations that so many of my compatriots trend towards when describing our cousins from the south.) Many Americans tend to be strong, patriotic and individualistic. They are taught from an early age to stand up for their rights, never allow oneself or one's country to be victimized by a bully, and that the cream of society can rise to the top if one works hard enough and diligently enough. Canadians, by contrast tend to be apologetic, happy with second place, (unless it is hockey-then all bets are off as many Canucks would happily decapitate an opponent with a shinny stick!) and meeker. In short we are the before picture in the body building ads. The little guy on the beach who gets sand kicked in our faces. We are the people whose foot gets stepped on and we apologize to our offender by saying "No issues. I have another!" It would have been easy to wave off the lack of civility as simply American behaviour, but it isn't fair nor is it accurate. The fact is that Canadian snowbirds in South Florida are amongst the rudest souls in the area, so what is the problem? Is there something in the water?
Over the past few weeks I have been stepped on, shoved aside, bumped into more times then I can count, sworn at, rammed into with shopping carts, almost run over by old people on scooters, (OY! That truly is becoming an issue for 2010!) cut ahead of in line, almost burned by lit cigarettes and cigars, had smoke blown directly in my face, dealt with crying babies at R-rated movies, had telephones ringing in inappropriate places, and have been cut off or almost hit in a car on a hourly basis. Every time some asshole or lobotomized driver pulls some unbelievable maneuver, The Husband has taken to looking at me in stunned bemusement while we both smile and yell "F@#* YOU!" It has become the mantra for every person trying to survive in public down here.
Yesterday, we decided to take in a movie at the Aventura Mall. That was our first mistake. As we drove into the covered garage that The Husband has lovingly dubbed the Aventura Speedway due to its hairpin turns, lack of speed limit, and guardrails, we knew that parking was going to be an issue. We kept heading upwards with the thousands of other morons, searching in vain until we came to a dead stop. Imagine the scene. Car A is idling to the right of the lane hoping against hope that a shopper will relinquish his spot. Of course no shopper is forthcoming and Car A is simply tired of the quest and remains in neutral. Car B is in a spot on the right, and is attempting to unload all packages into the trunk, and put 3 kids and Grandma into the back seat. There is no guarantee that they are going anywhere quickly. Car C is directly in front of us and half-way parallel with Car A, thereby blocking the entire lane so that no car can squeeze around it. Car C spies Car B and stops dead hoping to score the spot before Car A. (Wait there's more!!) We are in Car D directly behind Car C so we are stuck. Why? Because Car E in a spot to our left is attempting to back out, but cannot because of all of us blocking her path. Car F is travelling in the other direction and is parallel with us, but facing the opposite way. He spies Car E trying to pull out and wants to back up to score Car E's spot ahead of us. Confused yet? Well, all of this was occurring through a cacophony of horns, cuss words and The Husband's "F@#* YOU!" Thank God nobody was injured or worse, and thank God no guns were drawn. That actually did happen in the same parking garage a week earlier.
I have started to wonder if South Florida is the way it is because nobody is actually from here. Everybody is from someplace else. We are a society of transplants. New Yorkers, French and English Canadians, New Englanders, Mid-Westerners, Cubans, Haitians, South and Central Americans have all found winter domesticity in the sunny south, and we all bring our cultural disparities. I have remarked on many occasions on how I would be if I made this place my permanent home. Would I need to adapt simply to survive? Today at the Las Olas Art Show, I purchased a $10.00 poster. I handed the young woman a $20 and she gave me back 2 fives. Without realizing it, there was a $10.00 bill stuck underneath the 2 fives. As I turned to leave, I noticed her error and I immediately returned the extra $10. It wasn't a big deal. It was what I hope most of us would do, but she was flabbergasted and actually felt the need to thank me for my honesty. Hopefully she pays it forward by waiting her turn in the next long traffic line or by giving up the next convenient parking spot to another. A little bit would go a long way to solving F@#* You!