Thursday, June 12, 2014

Miami: Day to Day

In addition to the big problems I've talked about, there are innumerable smaller ones that are similar to problems every place has but generally increased in rate of occurrence and intensity.  This will be the last one because I have exorcised my demons with it, I think.  I suspect everyone knows, by now, that I don't particularly like living in Miami.

Traffic is a big problem we have in Miami. Everywhere else I've lived with Adrienne, I have done almost all of the driving.  Adrienne generally preferred in Santa Cruz and Maine to take public transportation to work - she doesn't like to drive.  I do.  So I do most of the driving, sometimes even when it's not good for me.  For years, I drove every mile of every long distance trip we did, even when it made me sick.  When we drove from Maine to California, I did get sick at one point, literally vomiting, because I didn't relinquish the wheel.  (Nowadays, I drive for two hours and Adrienne for one - I generally start and finish, so I definitely do the lion's share, which is cool, but the breaks have totally stopped white line fever and motion sickness.)

Here in Miami, driving makes me so crazy that it makes Adrienne crazy.  Here, she would rather drive in the crazy than listen to me being crazy in Miami traffic.  I want to emphasize, here, that I learned to drive in Las Vegas traffic.  It isn't that I'm unused to dealing with densely packed roads.  It's that Miami traffic is noticeably worse than even other densely populated tourist destinations.

Which isn't to say it isn't crazy for her, either.  It is.  And she's on the road an hour and a half every day!

How is it crazy?  Well, I have never seen so many people so willing to cut people off.  Using your turn signal is generally consented to be a sign of weakness and usually provokes someone into cutting you off.  This insanity means that when a road narrows, no one cedes any ground at all, making Miami's already heavy traffic worse as numerous bottlenecks are created by jerks trying to get to the front of the line.

People in Miami also don't know how to use turn lanes.  They'll turn into them so their trunk is out in traffic.  This is nigh constant.

People in Miami also just . . . stop.  They'll stop their cars anywhere to do whatever business they have to do.

At every major street corner in town, there is a beggar or some dude with fruit, weaving in and out of traffic, trying to get paid.  This slows down the traffic, too, as people have to avoid them or they stop to buy things.

They won't get out of the way of emergency vehicles!

Cyclists are contemptuous of their lives and the lives of others.  About 90% of cyclists in Miami, at any given time, are doing something stupid.  Not illegal, though that, too, but bafflingly stupid - like driving down the wrong side of a busy road at night with neither a helmet nor a light.

Adrienne was involved in a crash that nearly totaled our car.  No one was hurt, but it was clearly unpleasant and dangerous.  Our rear bumper is also a mess because it has been hit at least three times while in parking lots.  Every so often, we'll come out and there will be more paint chipped off because of a low speed parking lot collision.  Of course, no one leaves a note or anything.

Those are fairly specific things.  More generally, Miami drivers are unsafe and selfish.  It is reflected in the danger of the roads.  Miami averages more than twice the average in traffic, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities than the national average - bearing in mind that most Americans are primarily city drivers, too, that Miami is about twice as dangerous as other big American cities.  It is, without doubt, one of the least safe places in America to drive, as reflected in almost every survey of bad traffic.

The city is also very car centered - moreso because even if you live in a place where you can theoretically walk to places, those places are likely to be terrible.

For instance, when we first got to Miami there was the Walgreens of the Damned where the workers were incredibly toxic - flagrantly rude and only grudgingly doing the basic elements of their jobs.  Most other shops nearby weren't any better, either.  We then lived close to an ice cream shop that we went into once because of the bad service.  You know that it's got to be bad if Adrienne and I are avoiding an ice cream place in Miami because of the lousy service.

Where we live, now, we are essentially across the street from a local market.  I've been in there twice, Adrienne has been in there once.  While pretending to be a store, it is really just a place where alcoholics and tweakers can buy beer.  Both times I went into the store to get a bottle of soda.  Both times, that bottle of soda was so old it was flat.  Not so old that it tasted a bit off - the soda was literally without carbonation.

The service is incredibly rude, too.  To buy anything, you have to reach across a freezer unit and counter to put your items in front of the cashier, who will not bag them nor hand them back to you.  Both times I was there, the cashier was incredibly sullen while he did this, like I was interrupting his day because I wanted to buy some pop.

More recently, the joint has expanded into the pawn shop business, to give you an indication of how classy it is.  Bringing together tweakers, beer and pawn shopping!  All the better to buy your meth, I suppose.

I went to another local market, but . . . it turned out to be a few bottles of South American sodas and a counter where people bought wings and fries.  Seriously, it was a weird place that seemed to do a lot of business but didn't really have anything in it if you weren't looking for too sweet sodas and congestive heart failure.

The problems with service don't end there, either.  Here at the house, we can't really get pizza delivered.  There is about a fifty percent chance of any given pizza we order actually arriving.  For a while, we were experimenting with delivery places but stopped due to the high rate of them either not delivering our order at all or there being some kind of serious problem with our order.  There are two places that we will order from because they have the normal kinds of problems, which is like magic in Miami.

I think that the problems with service are a piece with the bad driving.  People in Miami are pretty consistently self-centered assholes.  They drive like assholes and when they get to work, they keep on being assholes.  Regardless, it creates a culture of incompetence and rudeness that is pervasive.  If you look back to the big problems I've mentioned, almost all of them are grounded in people here in Miami either being rude or incompetent.

Unfortunately, this extends to city services, too.  We have a real problem that trash collection doesn't happen reliably.  It is supposed to happen every Tuesday, you can put out your big pieces of junk like ruined furniture or whatever and a truck is supposed to come by to pick it up.  The truck doesn't.  The only time I've seen it come is when I've complained.

Worse, it effects law enforcement - though I think this is made worse because of the culture of corruption that pervades all Miami government.

One of the big problems we have with where we live, now, is noisy neighbors.  They are rude.  People will blare music at all hours of the day so loud that I can hear it over the TV, inside.  It is unacceptable and also against the law.  If you are making noise that can be heard 100 feet from its source, that is prima facie evidence of guilt and punishable with a fine up to $1200.  I checked.

Most of the time when we call to report a noise problem, nothing happens.  I would say we have to average two calls to get someone down to take care of the problem.  Both Adrienne and I have been told that noise complaints can't be filed unless it is after 10pm.  That is untrue.  The 10pm thing refers to businesses, not residences, and is another example of that lazy, incompetent thing - you've got operators convincing people it's pointless to call the cops.  Which is probably why none of our neighbors who are actually close to the loud assholes do anything - how many times do you have to be told by a police operator that there is no violation before you give up?

About a month after I complained to my city council person, most of the noise issues stopped.  I have no idea if they were related, but it's possible that they did something and didn't tell us.  On the other hand, our city council person couldn't sit on the council for a year because she was still working off the sentence from her previous corruption charge - which means that after being convicted of fraud, she somehow managed to get re-elected.  That's very Miami, too.

My face-to-face interactions with Miami's "finest" are limited to one - but it is also telling, I think.

I was down at the airport, trying to pick up Adrienne.  This was at the Miami International Airport, and the cops there are Miami cops.  Anyway, I had stopped at a cutout to text Adrienne and a policeman came along and told me to move.  I was annoyed, but complied, and as I was leaving, the sonofabitch insulted me, calling me stupid.  I flipped him off and drove away.  I parked and was crossing the street to get into the airport because Adrienne's flight was slightly delayed.

The same cop came up to me and started an argument.  I was just walking along and he decided to take time out of his day to cross over and start a fight.  He insulted me, again.  I asked for his name so I could report him.  He was wearing neither a name tag or any identification at all, other his cop vest!  There was no way I could specifically identify the officer!  This stunned me.

He refused to give it to me, insulting me, again.  I responded in kind and we got into a shouting argument in front of MIA.  A crowd formed, including other cops.  I asked the other cops to give me the name of the jerk verbally abusing me.  They looked away and didn't do anything.  Neither did any of them come over to try to control the situation.  They let him keep shouting at me and I kept shouting back, trying to get his name and number so I could report him.

Eventually, I just walked away and he didn't follow me.

I could go in this vein for a while.  The specifics of bad service, dangerous and idiotic traffic and rude people are too numerous to really list, though.  Almost every time Adrienne and I leave, for any reason, something bad happens.  Mostly, its little things - getting cut off in traffic, having to deal with a sullen jerk doing their job badly, stuff like that.  Sometimes, it's something noteworthy, like getting into a screaming fight with a cop or having our car totaled.

Adrienne gets it worse than I do!  She has to drive to work.  For an hour and a half, every day, she has to sit in that fucked up traffic, surrounded by awful, mean-spirited and selfish drivers.  I can't imagine.

I think I've made my point, though.  In addition to the big things that people in Miami fuck up, way too many of them also fuck up the little things.  Which isn't to say that everyone in Miami is a fuck up.  Of course not!  But in any undertaking that involves more than a couple of people, you're probably going to have whatever it is you're doing stymied because of some lazy, rude and incompetent jerk.  My stories about house buying and selling are riddled with these sorts of people, of course, that person who just wouldn't do their job long past the point when doing it would have been easier than not doing it.  (Which is one of the things that stuns me - that so many people continue to fuck up long after they are sparing themselves any effort in doing so!)

The effects have been to limit the extent that Adrienne and I do anything.  For me, considering I work from home, this means an almost perfect isolation, save for Adrienne and my online friends.  Whole months have passed with me talking face-to-face to no one other than my wife.  Adrienne has become very protective of her unstructured time at home, often hostile to the idea of going anywhere after she's within our walls - after spending all day dealing with FIU bureaucracy, her boss who has fully adopted the Miami-eque management style and after a long drive in traffic, I don't blame her.  It can be a trick to get us to leave the house, though, most days.

I think this is going to be the last post, though.  My strength to complain wanes.  I framed a post asking why Miami is this way, but I don't really care enough to write it.  I had intended to write a post about the good things in Miami, but I have lost interest in doing so - and the good things do not even remotely make up for the bad ones, anyway.  There are some pretty buildings.  So what?

When the higher angels of my conscience are in charge, I can see why people like Miami.  If you're terrified of winter, there is none of that, here.  (Though there is none of it most of the South and Southwest, too, I should point out.  The West Coast is also almost entirely winterless.)  There are a lot of things to do.  (But not more than in any other big city.)  Many people have their families here, of course, though I do not and don't know why families don't leave, en masse, for better climes.

But then I think of the objective things.  The muggy, wet summers - with the added bonus of the occasional hurricane and annual tropical storm or two!  Is a little snow really so bad compared to that?

How about corruption?  Except for, like, Chicago, maybe, Miami has more corruption than any other American city.  Go ahead and google "Miami corruption".  It is a matter of public record!

Traffic?  You're more than twice as likely to die in Miami - in a car, on a bike, or on foot - than you are in the rest of the country.  Not to mention that commute times are awful!

Crime?  You're more than twice as likely to be robbed or killed in Miami than the national average, and three times as likely to be beat up!  And when you go to the cops, you'll find a legal system mired in corruption and incompetence - objectively so, publicly so.  Go to your city government about it?  Good luck, they're just as corrupt as the cops.

These are objective things that make me wonder why the people who live here are so adamant about living here.  In much better places, most of the people have been honest about the flaws and willing to leave.  Santa Cruz is a great place to live, but almost no one clutched onto the city with death grips like I've seen in Miami.

People will go, "Well, Miami has a lot of Latinos and they're close to their families."  Er, Santa Cruz is in CALIFORNIA.  You may have heard, but California is mostly Latino - moreso than Florida.  Miami and LA have about the same percentage of Latinos, after all.   So, no, not that.

But for some reason people cling to this rotten barnacle of a town where everything they say they want can be gotten in other, better places - try San Diego.  Try San Francisco.  Try Seattle or Tucson or Austin or New Orleans.  All of these places are exciting, have good weather and are just much, much better places to live!

Thinking that way exhausts me, though.  I don't know why people stay in Miami and, ultimately, I don't care.  Lots of people do things that confuse me and I accept that this is just another one.  I am happy to leave Miami with my soul, marriage and checkbook intact.  I gladly cede Miami to the Miamians.

1 comment:

  1. :( I'm sorry your time here sucked so badly. I hope we were never an addition to all the stress and horribleness.