OUR POSITION: Seasonal population surge brings stress.
Maybe you’ve noticed the uptick in traffic in the past week or so? The big, big uptick?
Maybe you’ve tried to drive from Anywhere to Somewhere Else in what you think is a Reasonable Amount of Time!? And it takes Two, THree, FOUR times longer than it typically 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!
… Well, 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. Presidents Day weekend is considered peak season around here. And just wait: March is the top month for tourist taxes.
That means more crowds. And more stress in spacial relationships appertaining to mobility. Or, road rage.
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 and golf. Enjoy lunch or dinner (or, heck, breakfast, lunch and dinner) at any of our fine restaurants. Go to the beach. Go fish. 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!)
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 Burger King.
Please, recognize that year-round residents may become a tad testy at times. All apologies, but the aforementioned testiness may, unfortunately, lead to less-than-admirable expressions or behavior. Actual rudeness.
All apologies, and, yes, really, no excuse. Except that we are also frail and flawed human beings, as are ye.
To all our year-rounders: Come on, man and woman! Chill.
It’s really busy right now, so plan accordingly and calm the heck down.
Recognize that we live in a seasonal economy. Winter snowbirds support our year-round economy. They buy newspapers, gasoline, lunch, T-shirts, 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 kids of their own. They fork over sales taxes that pay for the new recreation center you use in June and 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.
It’s just that, 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’ll be hot and quiet and dull as all get-out, which is the way some people like it.