Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Dangers of Tourist Season


Before moving to Florida I used to laugh when I saw this bumper sticker because I thought it was just locals blowing off steam. Now that I have lived here for 2 years I want to buy a gun and start shooting tourists - and the Florida economy be damned.

Two weeks ago while driving on Bonita Beach Road in Lee County I was unfortunately following Tommy Tourist and his wife in a 45 mile per hour zone on the road. This Tommy Tourist was sporting an Ohio license plate on his car. As usual, Tommy was not driving 45, he was doing more like 30ish which is fine as long as he was paying attention to the road. However this Tommy Tourist wasn't. He was busily looking down at the seat and making hand gestures to his wife/passenger. As he did, Tommy would step on the brakes further slowing traffic and then he'd speed up leaving those of us who were unfortunate enough to be stuck behind him watching Tommy zoom off toward the horizon.

This oh-too-typical scene continued for a couple of miles as I drove north on Bonita Beach Road. Suddenly, however, the demeanor of the driving experience changed. Rather than speed up and slow down, then slow down and speed up, Tommy stood on the brakes and came to a screeching halt in the middle of the road. Traffic was flowing at 43 miles per hour when Tommy did this.

And what did Tommy do when he came to a screeching halt? He picked up a road map and started reading it - smack dab in the middle of the God damned road.

It didn't matter that there was a large, flat, unoccupied, shoulder to the road. Nope. Tommy never thought to pull over there and read his map. He had to read it in the middle of the road.

Of course I laid on the horn and gave him a one finger salute as I swerved around him. Several other cars reacted the same as they came onto this oaf reading the map in the middle of the road. Tommy stood his ground however and kept on reading.

This morning while driving down South Harbor Drive in Venice, on my way to Caspersen Beach to look for birds, I encountered another nitwit from Ohio who did the same thing his fellow Buckeye did two weeks ago - stopped in the middle of the road to read his map.

It's bad enough that the tourists have to clutter the highways and back up service at restaurants and just generally make Florida a miserable place to be in winter when its "season." But when the myopic sense of responsibility to themselves and others, especially on the roadways, starts to endanger the safety of others, its time for the moron's to go back home.

I believe more fervently than ever now that if Tommy and his clan want to be here in the winter to enjoy the temperatures in the 70s and 80s, then they should be required to also be here in July and August when 95 degree days are accompanied with 95 percent humidity. And if they can't stomach the summer heat, then they aren't allowed back in winter. Seems only fair to me.

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