So this past week I took an unexpected trip to Florida to help my mom out.  She was scratched on the hand by her cat and spent almost seven days in the hospital, culminating in surgery.  Long story short, surgery was successful and she is recovering well, but is pretty much down to one (non-dominant) hand to conduct her life for the next couple of weeks.  I went down, drove her where she needed to go (doctor, grocery, etc), helped her with some chores and just  generally tried to get her setup to be on her own, in the house, for a couple of weeks.

Incidentally my Florida friends, if you ever need to go to the hospital I recommend avoiding Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation.  The care my mother received here was abysmal. She requested a diabetic menu and, when they decided to bring her a meal, was consistently served meals loaded with carbohydrates and sugars.  The day after her surgery no one put in the change to remove the "Nothing By Mouth" orders so they neglected to bring her a lunch until I called and inquired.  Even though she controls her diabetes at home with diet and one medication they wanted to give her insulin shots during her stay and stopped taking her sugar measurements when she refused because "what difference does it make, you aren't taking the insulin anyhow".  The board in her room contained the instruction "elevate L(eft) hand"; the surgery was performed on her right hand.  Those are just he screw-ups I noticed; I'm sure there were many more that went unnoticed.

This was the first time I'd been to Florida in probably seven or eight years, and if I took one thing away from this trip it was that I can never, ever move back there.  Now, my mom doesn't live in a major city like Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, she lives in Lauderdale Lakes which, compared to Eldersburd, Maryland, is an apparent metropolis.  The number of people there is obscene as was the density of retail space which seemed to be at ~80$% occupancy.  Public transportation is plentiful yet it seems that nearly everyone drives and driving, for me, was extremely stressful, to the point where I just didn't want to do it.  The vast majority of the drivers were rude beyond belief.  As an example I witnessed a funeral procession moving down a fairly major road in the same direction I was traveling.  It was a long procession with all vehicles using their hazard lights and they did have a police escort getting them through intersections without stopping when they encountered a red light. At one point the procession made a right hand turn onto another road and as they slowed to make the turn one of the vehicles exited from the line of cars, turned off his hazards and continued on his merry way, having utilized the free police escort to its fullest extent. Completely rude and disrespectful, but not unusual from my observations.

Surprisingly I didn't experience rudeness where I most expected it, or at least where I tend to get it back home: customer service.  With perhaps one exception (excluding the hospital), every cashier, server or other retail employee I encountered was friendly and helpful, even in the Jamaican restaurants!

A few other observations from my trip on the local environment:

 

  • 90-95% of Honda products are Civics or RSXs
  • 90-95% of Civics and RSXs: (a) are lowered, (b) have an annoying exhaust, and/or (c) are pretty well wrecked
  • All public buses have bike racks and they were almost always in use
  • 90: the minimum sum of one wheel from each of the first three donks I have ever seen in person, all seen within the first 15 minutes of crawling behind the wheel
  • Turn signals are apparently an option on every vehicle sold