State of Anomie
M. William Phelps
At the South Florida Book Festival on Saturday, M. William Phelps, a New York Times bestselling author of about 30 books on real murders, told an audience that some of the crimes he wrote about occurred in Florida, which he views as a harbor for degenerates and assorted other nefarious characters.
That got me to thinking about experiences I had last week at two South Florida dives. Those events impressed upon me the absence of any sense of community in this milieu.
Let me root, root, root for the home team
After I was stood up for the third or fourth time (I lost count) by a woman who pleaded with me each time to forgive her, I decided to watch the Miami Marlins game while listening to jazz at our pre-arranged meeting place, Blue Jean Blues in Fort Lauderdale. I noticed that the TV was tuned to a college ballgame at some far-away location, and asked the bartender to switch it to the Marlins game. They were (and still are) in contention for the playoffs. Admittedly, I was a bit sarcastic: “There is a Major League Baseball team about 15 miles south of here. It’s called the Miami Marlins. They’re playing now. Do you suppose the people in this establishment might be more interested in watching that game than the one in which no one has any connection?”
Two nights later, I visited the Pavilion Grille in Boca Raton. Again, the Marlins were playing, so I asked the barmaid, a heretofore pleasant young lady, to switch the TV from a kick-boxing match to the game. In the past, she always has complied. Never a problem. The switch is accomplished in a few seconds.
Duh … the Miami who?
At this point, I would like to make an observation about the South Florida environment. There simply is no loyalty or enthusiasm over the national
“I’ll try,” the bar maid said. I stood in front of the TV, waiting, and waiting, and waiting. She was busy serving other customers, but a couple of times, she had a break, and looked for things to do. Changing the TV channel wasn’t one of them, even though she saw me patiently standing there. Then I saw that the other employee, a young, humorless fellow who has poured a drink for me on numerous occasions, was standing with nothing to do. I waved to him, and asked if he would change the channel. He couldn’t hear, and asked me, his face screwed up in a look of hostility and his tone challenging, “What?” He didn’t really talk; he snarled, his demeanor rivaling that of a pit bull in a fighting ring. I repeated my request, and he brushed me off, saying, “I don’t have a clicker.” That, of course, was a lie.
I estimate that, over the years, I have contributed about $400 to that establishment’s tip jar, and those two persons behind the bar saw me stuff it every time I ordered a drink, something that most patrons there don’t do. But perhaps I shouldn’t complain, because I will save some money: I’ll never put a penny in that jar again.
Sun doesn’t warm hearts.
South Florida has fantastic weather. It has great restaurants and cultural advantages, with myriad festivals abounding in every locale, and a rich cultural diversity. What it’s in short supply of is a sense of belonging, a feeling that people care about the place where they live, and the other people who live there. Few people seem to assimilate, and it all too often shows in a lack of kindness, respect and civility toward their neighbors.
Would that the area’s warm weather found a parallel in the behavior of more of its inhabitants.