Tuesday, August 27, 2013
the tribes of miami
"If you really want to understand Miami, you got to realize one thing first of all. In Miami, everybody hates everybody.”
So says a citizen of this city by the sea in Tom Wolfe's Back to Blood.
That may be true. I don't know. I have visited Miami occasionally since 1968 as a tourist, and not often enough to have a reasoned opinion. But if two events are even tangentially representative, the city is filled with impatient, self-involved people.
When I arrived early Sunday morning, I gathered up my luggage and headed out to a very narrow island to await the arrival of the hotel shuttle. Unlike most airports, the island is not designated solely for shuttles. As a result, hotel shuttles, parking shuttles, taxis, and waves of private cars, trucks, and SUVs all wedge their vehicles against the tiny strip of concrete.
I am accustomed to systems like this in Mexico. And I am always amazed how well they work down south.
Not so at Miami International. I heard more bleating horns than I have heard in Manhattan. In Melaque, you wouldn't even know that horns are installed in cars.
The "me first" pushing mixed with the uncertainty of older drivers pulling into traffic had cars backed up like airplanes over Atlanta. Impatience permeated the air.
A car stopped beside my luggage and me, and an older man (my age) got out of the car yelling at me for standing on the island. When he cocked his arm back, his son yelled at him: "Dad. Dad. Stop it. Not today."
I thought the airport was an aberration. Until we went to Costco yesterday. When we drove past the front of the store, we had to pull around a young woman talking on the telephone -- waiting for a car to pull out. You can probably guess why. The parking spot was right next to the entrance.
We parked further down the lot. When we came back, Miss SUV was still sitting there. Talking on her telephone. But she had pulled forward enough that she had blocked the car trying to pull out, a car that was trying to exit the row, and traffic coming both ways behind her.
People were honking at her and telling her to back up. She ignored them. Roy and I stood there for a few minutes, along with several other people, enjoying what could only be called street theater.
A nice-looking blonde standing next to us said: "A gun-toting Republican like me could put a stop to this." As tempted as we were to see this plot twist, it didn't happen.
Considering the fact that everyone here seems to be at war with one another (with the exception of those who are too busy rushing down the freeway past the almost-stationary Cadillacs being captained by the crest of a white head), we were simply lucky.
In two days, I have been introduced to most of the tribes of Miami. It has been like visiting inside Tom Wolfe's head.