This morning I had the pleasure of visiting some of the finer government offices here in Miami. The entire story is another post for another day. Like many downtown areas, parking is a bitch. Even though it meant I would have to backtrack almost all the way home after my appointment before heading out to work, I figured it would be worth it to take public transportation, ie the Metrorail, not to have to promise my next child, an arm and the title to my car to the parking attendant.
Despite this wonderfully wonderful climate, people here are still pissy 24/7. But of course they are, they still have to go to work unlike the tons of people I see scamper past our building on a daily basis (I work on South Beach). The ride into downtwn was uneventful, meaning, thankfully, no one tried to strike up a conversation. I handled my business in a manner befitting a single mom who is completely fed up with the system and wonders why said system makes it so difficult to track down a deadbeat dad. (Thank goodness for loving and supportive boyfriend.)
As I was standing on the platform waiting for train number 2 to get back to my car, I noticed an older gentleman in an electric wheelchair. It’s possible that he was paralyzed from the neck down, but I didn’t ask. I stepped onto the train while keeping an eye on him. He seemed to be waiting for the crowd to clear before attempting to board. When the time finally approached for him to get on the train, he started moving forward but he got stuck. You’d think that train stations would be a little better designed, but they aren’t and so stuck he was. (His front tire had turned sideways and was stuck in the gap between the platform and the train.) At that moment, I held my phone in one hand, briefcase in the other. It only took a split second to realize that of this train full of people, more than 60 percent male, no one was going to help. God bless Miami.
After cupping my phone ear to shoulder and slinging my briefcase over the other shoulder, I got behind his chair and tried to get him on the train. Those chairs are heavy. Way heavier than I imagined. Or I’m weak. Way weaker than I used to be. Either way, I had damn near thrown out my back and blew out a knee (note to self, don’t try it in heels next time) before any of the lazy bastards on the train got up to help me. It’s amazing how people have no respect for others. I wonder how much longer he would have been stuck if I hadn’t helped. It’s scary here.
This post has no end.
I have recently returned from a WONDERFUL, albeit minimally snowy vacation to Tennessee. Our group contained myself, an African American, my daughter, half AA, half German, my boyfriend, Cuban, our former roommate, half Cuban, half Mexican, and his girlfriend, Honduran. Why do I go through the ethnicities? Read on.
Please, put aside your preconcieved notions that all of our southern states are places only for WASPs, for that is not true. Even a small town like Gatlinburg, a resort town, found its fair share of culturally diverse crowds. We ran into many people who spoke Spanish, French, German, and even Russian (we think). There were even quite a few black folks out trying out this snowboarding sensation. (Keep at it! Don’t leave me out there alone!)
All this and more I tell you only to relive the funniest thing I heard all week. It’s funny in a sad sort of way, but I laughed as did all in my group when I relayed the story, which in turn, allows you to laugh too.
Skiing/snowboarding is quite the social sport. Either that, or I must have a sign on that only other people can see that says “I want you, a compete stranger, to tell me everything about yourself and ask you everything there is to know about me.” Long sign, I know, but I must be wearing it. At any rate, I’ve been off riding by myself for a while as my daughter is in a lesson and my poor baby is home sick on the first day of our trip. I’ve made fast friends with 2 girls from TN that just love me for some reason (am I Token?), as well as several other kids. I guess it could be that I look younger than I am and act nowhere near my age, but I digress.
On one particular lift ride, I had the opportunity to ride up with a southern gentleman and his son. I can say southern with absolute certainty because not only did the accent give it away, but he flat out told me that he was from TN. The conversation started as most do on a lift ride. Hellos, weather, first time, etc. Something like this:
Him: How y’all doing today?
Me: (Wondering if I’ve multiplied) Fine thanks, you?
Him: We’re doing great! Great day of skiing.
Mind you, his son says nothing this entire ride.
Me: Good to hear.
Him: So where ya from?
Me: (Because I’ve told this story many times today, and many times at Club Med) Pittsburgh originally, but now I live in Miami.
Him: Oh yeah? What do you do down there?
Me: I’m an Administrative Assistant.
Him: Oh? Where at?
I think that’s one too many personal questions at this point, but….
Me: A property management company.
Him: You been down there long?
Me: (Is this ride over yet?!?!) About 3 years now.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…..
Him: You gotta learn to speak mexican to live down there, huh?
Me: (Blank stare.) Guffaw!
First off, I didn’t capitalize Mexican to accentuate the way in which it was said. If nothing else, I do know punctuation and capitalization (as I hit spell check). Secondly, the brunt of the Hispanic population in Miami proper is Cuban although we do boast a large Mexican population. Third, my newly made redneck friend, if you’re going to be stereotypical, at least get it right, because learning to speak SPANISH goes a long way here.
He didn’t say much after I giggled in his face and thankfully, the ride was over shortly thereafter. By the way, southern gentleman, where did you get that gaiter? It’s such a lovely shade. Oh, wait, that’s your neck.
South Beach and Miami in general has a ton of homeless people. Some of them are war vets, some drug addicts or alcoholics, and some are literally flat out crazy. I often wonder how one gets to this point and then I feel so blessed to not have gotten anywhere near that point. I don’t typically give homeless folks money, simply because I know it isn’t going to go to good use, but I never hesitate to buy anyone that’s hungry some food, providing I have the capability.
(I know I jump around a lot and I’m working to make that better.)
A couple of days ago, when driving home from work, I broke my personal rule about not handing out money. On the corner of NW 12th and the off ramp, there’s a traffic light. And with that traffic light, comes a variety of homeless men (and on occasion a woman) with their signs asking for money. Typically, I keep my windows up on that corner, because, let’s face it, I’m not a big girl and someone who’s strung out has the capability to possess super-human strength. This day, I had my window open and some cash on me (which I also don’t usually do since I have a tendency to lose money) and there was a gentleman coming towards my car. His sign wasn’t anything out of the ordinary: Homeless, hungry, veteran, please help. But what got me is “Freedom isn’t free”. With so much going on in the world, that really struck me. That’s not what got me reaching in my purse though.
Quite often, I see homeless people that I just don’t believe are homeless. I think they’re scam artists. I don’t say that to be mean and I understand that there are shelters where people can get clean and get clean clothes, but sometimes, they’re just dressed a little too well with sneakers that are too nice. Not this man though. He wasn’t overly dirty or overly clean, but he was genuine, that much I felt. He also had his veteran badge on from the VA hospital and it had his picture, so I know at least that part was the real deal.
As he came by the car, he almost didn’t make eye contact with me, as if he was thinking that I was just another young person that didn’t care, but I surprised him. I got him over to the car and gave him a 5, it was all I had, but more importantly, I thanked him for serving our country. I think he wanted to hug me, not for the money, but for the thanks, and if it were in a different situation, maybe I would have, but the light turned, and it’s Miami, and if you don’t move your car within a half second of the light turning, you might get killed.
I kept on with my drive home and I felt good. Good that my little bit might help, good that my words were probably more valuable to that man than my money, and good that my little part of the world is safe and sound with a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and love in my heart.