Global warming enthusiasts have frequently warned that South Florida may find itself entirely under water by the end of the century, and, in response, I have often expressed my fervent belief that the end of the century is not nearly soon enough. Instead of trying to solve climate change, our scientists should be investigating ways to attach very heavy weights to the Florida coastline in order to speed up the Atlantisization of the state.
In recent months, family obligations have caused me to spend much more time in the Ft. Lauderdale area than I would like, and I have compiled even more reasons to hate the place.
Before I begin, however, a disclaimer: when I talk about the Ft. Lauderdale area, I am not really speaking of the bikini-clad, wet-tshirt-contested, sunblock-scented, spring-break-infested beachfront that may come to mind. I am talking about where all the old people live: the fake-laked, sun-baked, broadly-boulevarded, rain-drenched, blindingly-shadeless, one-strip-mall-after-another Ft. Lauderdale suburbs like Coral Springs, Coconut Creek and Margate.
These are towns that blend into one another seamlessly in a way you’d never notice, except that the addresses on the street you’re driving on suddenly reset so that you’ll be motoring along, looking for, say, 1800 Sample Road, and you’re passing 1508, and 1646, and 1782 and then, with no fanfare whatsoever, you’re at 124, having somehow never arrived at 1800.
In fact, that is my first new reason to hate the Ft. Lauderdale area: streets that suddenly reset and that are called one thing on street signs and another thing on your Hertz GPS. Here are the others:
Reason #2: Marty Kiar. You’ve probably never heard of Marty Kiar. Only three types of people have:
- Members of Marty Kiar’s family.
- Residents of Broward County, Florida.
- Travelers who have spent any amount of time in the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
The first two categories above are questionable, but not the third.
Marty Kiar, evidently, is the Mayor of Broward County. I know this because, when I’m at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, he tells me so, about every 10 or 15 minutes, over the airport’s PA system. “Hello, I’m Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar,” begins the announcement. Marty then tells you some of the fun and educational things you can do in the Ft. Lauderdale area, followed by a sign-off reminding you that he is, in fact, Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar. If you miss any of the fun and educational things Marty mentions, don’t worry: he’ll be back in 10 minutes.
So I had this great punchline all set to go: “The only thing these repetitive announcements make me want to do in Ft. Lauderdale is vote for whoever’s running against Marty Kiar in the next election.”
But then I looked it up, and Kiar, who, frankly, looks like some sort of maniacal Batman villain, wasn’t even elected! According to the local newspaper, the Sun-Sentinel, “Broward County commissioners selected the ever-smiling Kiar to carry the ‘mayor’ title for a year, replacing Tim Ryan in the largely ceremonial post.”
Well, I have to say, Kiar certainly isn’t standing on ceremony. He’s making the most of his year of powerlessness, ensuring that anyone who’s in the airport for more than an hour absolutely hates him. Way to go, Marty, you egomaniac!
Reason #3: Perilous Parking Lots. So let’s say you have to go to the Dollar Store to get your mother her favorite candy which, apparently, she thinks is only available at the Dollar Store, although it would be much easier to order it from Amazon and have it delivered to her, but in her mind it’s not as good that way, so you agree to go to the Dollar Store if for no other reason than to escape your mother’s apartment, which she steadfastly keeps at 82 degrees, for a few blessed minutes.
So off you go, and then quickly realize that mom didn’t specify if you were supposed to go to Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar Zone, Dollar Days or the more downscale 99 Cent Plus Discount Store (amazingly, there is actually no such entity as “The Dollar Store”). So you pick one at random and drive around the parking lot looking for a space, which is difficult, because there are maybe only three spaces not designated for handicapped parking and it’s hard to keep your attention on the space hunt because, every few seconds, a car shoots out of a space with no regard whatsoever for any approaching vehicles, and it wouldn’t be so bad if you could at least pull into the vacated space, but you can’t because it is, of course, a handicap space, and you’re thinking there might be fewer handicapped people in Florida if anybody in the friggin’ state knew how to drive. And then you watch the people who use these spaces and many do not exhibit any obvious handicaps like limps, or missing limbs or, judging from the way they drive, blindness, and you are left to assume that Florida will issue you a handicapped parking sticker even if your handicap is stupidity.
Reason #4: Overly Friendly Waitresses. This is an interesting phenomenon. On my last trip, I had occasion to have breakfast at a Dennys, an iHop and at a place called the Flashback Diner in Boca Raton (which is just like Ft. Lauderdale only better dressed). In each case, the waitress addressed me as “honey,” “sweetheart,” or some variation thereof, as if I had stepped into some 1950s malt shop. I began to wonder if the restaurants down there face many sexual harassment law suits. I mean, guys probably won’t sue if a waitress says, “I’ll get your check right away, sweetcheeks,” but what if the genders are reversed? Do women get upset when a waiter calls them “babe,” or “sweetie,” or “honeyboobs?” But you know what? I spent four days there and ate in eight different restaurants and did not encounter one male waitperson. Possibly that’s because all the men are working as…
Reason #5: …Signpeople. As you drive around on thoroughfares that are as wide as the Hudson River yet comically called “roads,” you see them on every other corner, displaying signs for various businesses. “SELL YOUR GOLD TODAY!” To whom? The guy with the sign? “TWO PAIRS FOR $99!” Two pairs of what? Shoes? Earrings? Pants? “DOUBLE BLUE BOOK TRADE-IN TODAY!” I have enough distrust of car dealers as it is; I don’t think I’d do business with one whose primary advertising medium is the scraggly-bearded gentleman in the tank top and low-slung shorts on the corner of Atlantic and Powerline. Of course, some of the signpeople are independent businessmen, working for themselves. “HOMELESS VET.” “JUST EVICTED.” “NEED $1 TO PLAY LOTTERY!”
Reason #6: Horrible Billboards. It just won’t do for attorneys to hire raggedy signpeople, because those folks don’t look as though they have just won a huge settlement. So the lawyers buy billboards showing claimants saying how much they got (“Dan got me $650,000!”) or advertising all the types of crimes they can easily get you acquitted of. Some of these firms are highly specialized, such as Kenny Leigh and Associates, which only represents men in divorces, or the firm that only handles cruise ship injuries.
But not all the horrible billboards are from lawyers. There’s one I kept passing from a hospital with a digital display showing the average current wait time at their emergency room. And then there’s this classic, which is all over town:
Reason #7: Inappropriate Multitasking. In a previous post, I included a photo of a sign in Coral Springs advertising “Dentist/Massage.” On this trip, I saw one that I couldn’t stop to get a picture of, but nevertheless wanted to include: “Crispy Chicken/Check Cashing.” This is not to be confused with world-famous Sam’s Subs & Check Cashing of Pompano Beach, whose website promises “check cashing and lunch…with a smile :)” and “important high quality food and financial services to our community.”
Really, what can we do to get those flood waters flowing?
See you soon.