OUR POSITION: Population surge brings stress

Maybe you’ve noticed the uptick in traffic in the past week or so? Big, big uptick?

Maybe you’ve tried to drive from Anywhere to Somewhere Else in what you might think of as a Reasonable Amount of Time!? And it takes Two, Three, FOUR times longer than it should???

And, for God’s sake, you’re stuck in a very, very long line of traffic just waiting to make a left turn?

A simple left TURN!

And …

… Maybe you’ve noticed.

Welcome to the winter season — Snowbird Season — when you realize just how much the coast of Southwest Florida is a seasonal economy dependent on visitors/tourists.

Bigly. And the crowds can create stress, even for for a place such as small-town Arcadia.

To all our visitors: God bless you. We really do welcome and appreciate your presence. Y’all kick back and set a spell. Soak in the sun. Get up early and golf. Enjoy lunch or dinner (or, heck, breakfast, lunch and dinner) at any of our fine restaurants. Go fishing. Sit on the lanai and sip your morning coffee while reading one fine local community newspaper. (Customer service operators standing by right now to take your call!)

Welcome. Enjoy.

But also recognize this area is far less busy in, say, June or July, when the southern sun is directly overhead, glowing red hot and large as a medicine ball.

It’s a lot less busy then. And the simple car trip that takes all of 45 minutes today can be executed in a mere 20. A person can exceed the speed limit by a modest amount without being blocked by a convoy cars from (Another Place) in both right and left lanes. Quick trips to Publix are in-and-out simple. If you want to dine out on your brother’s birthday, no need to wait an hour for a table, or settle for fastfood.

Please, recognize that year-round residents, accustomed to an off-season of relative ease, may become a tad testy at times. All apologies (what are we, Democrats?), but the aforementioned testiness may, unfortunately, lead to less-than-admirable expressions or behavior. Actual rudeness.

All apologies, and, yes, really, no excuse. Except, we are also frail and flawed human beings, as are ye.

To all our year-rounders: Come on. Chill.

Come up for air, for God’s sake. It’s really busy right now, so plan accordingly and chill the heck out.

Recognize that we live in a seasonal economy. Winter snowbirds support our year-round economy.

They buy newspapers, gasoline, lunch, T-shirts and tomatoes.

They create jobs. They pay rent. Sometimes they like it here so much, they buy houses. And then they pay property taxes that support your kids’ schools while not actually filling those schools with their own kids. They fork over sales taxes that pay for the new recreation center you can use in September when they’re back north in (Another Place).

Sometimes — get this — they may even invite us over for drinks and dinner. We have a very pleasant evening, thank you very much.

We all depend on one another. We should appreciate one another. It’s stressful, yes. The population surge challenges our infrastructure and our patience.

But it best serves all to be mindful of our common interests. To be polite. To be respectful. We can all get through this together and, soon as you know it, the roads and restaurants will clear out again. It will be hot and quiet and dull as all get-out, which is the way some people like it.


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