Friday, February 20, 2015

Coming to Florida? Rent Your Own Car, It's Weird Here

Heck, that sums things up.

I got into a quick back and forth with my sister and a couple people here on the coldest day of the year.  After we got into a "Yuh Huh 41 is too Cold!" and "Nuh Uh, 1 degree is colder", I got to thinking.

Now, that's always dangerous.  Me thinking.

It usually involves me standing over the kitchen sink, looking out at the swimming pool, debating the important things in life.  You know, like "It was cold and dry last night, should I top off the pool". 

Yes, almost always.  If the water level has dropped below the middle of the row of tiles, give it a couple hours.

Why do people have pools again?  I haven't used mine since last Spring anyway and then only because I was the fool that went out and trimmed the hedges when it was full sun and almost 90 degrees.

But my sister.  Pat.  You're welcome to come down but rent your own car.

That's not me being grabby, that's me being realistic.  Snowbirds, yourself included, will begin flooding South Florida.   We're the closest warm place, and warm is relative today, to the Big Cities Up North. 

Every time I go out driving I'm reminded why I'm not incharge of the roads here.  Between the locals who don't know how to drive, and the Snowbirds who don't know how to drive and are lost, it's amazing to me that anyone gets anywhere without killing themselves.

I haven't heard of a good old fashioned road rage incident here for a while, but I think that's more from the reason that I haven't found a good reason to actually watch local "News" since 2005, and that was when I lived in Philadelphia.  I caught the internet feed of WWL TV in New Orleans and watched the coverage of Hurricane Katrina.  Riveting.  When TV Stations aren't selling soap, they can do a really good job of things.

Two stories kept coming to mind about the roads. 

Nobody knows how to drive.  The roads here are in a grid.  Very rigid adherence to the compass points.  You SHOULD know where you're going.  The speeds are usually posted frequently.  Beach is East, Miami is South, West Palm is North, Everglades are West.  You are boxed in pretty well.


I have been passed on the interstate here by one wheeled motorcycles about every third time I dare to go out on I-95.  A one wheeled?  No, really that's some over testosteroned kid on a motorcycle popping wheelies at over the legal speed limit of 65MPH.  Yes, I know it's foolhardy.

Add to that the person from Up North who is in the fast lane and has been signalling since the county line to get over now and you have a crash waiting to happen.


They just cut off the 15 year old Toyota Camry with the Haitian flag on it that was going 40 MPH in the middle lane so they can go to the beach.

So my Jeep will stay in the driveway.  I'm too scared to drive it all that much.

Oh the other story? 

See, the people down here got sold a bill of goods.  It's called Lexus Lanes by the locals.  In each gallon of gas you pay a significant amount of Federal and State tax.  The tax is based on the gallon and not on a percentage of cost.  So as cars became more efficient, my Jeep gets a little better than 20MPH Highway where my old CJ7 Jeep got in the low to mid Teens with the same motor, the tax revenues dropped.

Instead of adjusting the taxes to fund the roads like they should have to maintain revenue at a constant rate or keeping up with inflation, someone came up with a Bright Idea.

Lets create a new Toll Lane on the free interstate.

Bad idea.  Really.  Such a bad idea that they're spreading all over the country like Herpes.  Road Herpes.  Caused by Lexus Lanes.

What that does is it forces four lanes of traffic, for example in some cases, down to three.  People hate paying for tolls even if they approve of the concept of having a toll lane, so they sit in the free lanes.

People now fume because now they can't get anywhere.

The carpool lanes are all gone, they're now Lexus Lanes, and your commute is toast.

Want to get to the beach?  I always take the local surface routes here.  Fewer one wheeled motorcyclists and 15 year old Toyota Camrys on those roads, as well as fewer snowbirds. 

Now, when these people all get off of the interstate, they have another problem.

This little story?  Call it an anecdote.  It's free.

You see, there's a road concept.  I've heard it called a Zipper Lane or a Merge Lane.  The idea is that since everyone adheres to the rules of the road, of course, that they maintain hands at 10 and 2 and keep two seconds back from the car in front.

One Pennsylvania, Two Pennsylvania...

That allows plenty of room for people to legally fit in between them in case they need to merge at high speeds in front of that Toyota Camry going at 40 mph in the 65 mph zone trying to go to the beach.

No, that really is the concept.  You're actually supposed to keep the distance so that others can use the road too.

Floridians forgot about that years ago.  If Driving is a Contact Sport in Boston, and I have seen that first hand, Driving is Passive-Aggressive in Florida.

It's called a zipper lane because while you have two lanes merging to one, the two are supposed to seamlessly merge down like the zippers on your clothes.  They just form a nice neat single lane.  Everyone gets where they are supposed to.

Nah.  More fun to tailgate and keep them out of MY lane.  The flip side of that coin is the idiots that figure bigger is better and drive a huge truck to go to the corner store and get eggs.  They usually have an illegal locomotive horn in them all the better to scare you with, my dear!

Since the police are way too busy figuring out which car has the contraband coming out of the Port of Miami that is going back Up North,  this sort of thing gets overlooked, and people back up.

Safer to keep the Jeep in the driveway.

So, Pat, if you do come on down, we'll figure out how to get you to the beach.  That's easy here.  Getting to a Mall?  Not if I have to drive on I 95. 

You're welcome to the couch.  I'm just not going to go drive anywhere all that challenging.  The car does need to be moved though.  Want to sightsee?  Ooh look, it's a 1990s vintage Mercury Marquis driven by two white gloves or a fedora in front of us heading back to Century Village!

I forgot to tell you about that one!  Pull up a chair...

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