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Friday, April 24, 2009

Stressed to Excess in Key West

One of the things living in Key West has taught me is to be more patient and not to let little things upset me so much. Following Conch Trains continues to stress me, however. I take evasive action any time I think I'll have to follow one more than a block or so. Getting stuck in a traffic jam in Key West (translated: sitting at a stop light for a couple of minutes) stresses me. People that are not handicapped that have handicapped windshield emblems and that park in handicapped parking stress me big time. And people and businesses that put up signs to prohibit the public from parking in the public right of way don't' just stress me: they p*ss me off.

Conch Trains bring business to our town. Not to me and not to most of the people who live here. But they are good for Key West. So I tolerate them. And try to avoid them.

Traffic jams here are not like they are up north in America in places like New York City, or Los Angeles, or Atlanta. I was in Atlanta a couple of months ago. It took us 45 minutes on a Saturday night to drive six blocks. We were on a six lane (one direction) road. I'd be nuts if I had to live through that every day. How do you readers cope with that?

There is a local Key West resident that drives a big rugged truck that exudes his "manhood" to no end. He has one of those handicapped parking permit that he hangs on his windshield mirror when he pulls into a handicapped parking space. I watched him do this one day. He got out of his big rig and strutted someplace in the small shopping center. He is no more handicapped than I am. I don't know the guy personally so this isn't a me vs. him issue. There is a real handicapped person that uses that same handicapped parking space regularly. His van is outfitted with a special lift that helps him get out of his van in his wheelchair. The guy with the big rig took the real handicapped person's parking spot.

There are a lot of older people in the Old Town area that have handicapped parking signs placed in front of their homes. I get it. I understand parking is tight in Old Town. But the streets are public. Giving certain people special treatment isn't right unless they really are handicapped. And being old is not a handicap.

Finally, I have to criticize property owners that put up signs or erect barriers that keep the public from parking on the public streets and right of ways. The photos above show a sign placed in the public right of way next to a Casa Marina area town home warning potential parkers not to park there. The neighbor across the street has grass planted in his public right of way, and he erected metal poles to prevent the public from parking on the right of way.

There is a new deli on Truman that just put up signs inside the deli and on the side of the building that state "CUSTOMER PARKING ONLY UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED AWAY AT VEHICLE OWNER'S EXPENSE". And in smaller letters at the bottom there is a spot for the police department phone number. The signs look like something the city would put up. That's the point I guess. Put up something to prevent someone from doing something that they have a legal right to do.

I guess in the scheme of things if this is all I have to worry me, I've got it pretty easy. If I had to move back up north I don't think I could handle it.


flipper said...

Stupid question I am sure but in the case of the grass and metal poles why doesn't someone from the local gov't (city) instruct the owner to remove this or else have it removed at the owners cost? And even the no parking signs in front of the deli I would think should be dealt with by a bylaw officer or whatever they are called down there.

Maybe another solution is to tell big truck boy that he isn't allowed to park where the metal poles are. I bet he'd mow them over immediately and it would be the highlight of his week.

Anonymous said...

Good suggestion about the big rig/metal poles!

However, I have to say that it really is possible to BE handicapped and not LOOK handicapped. My DH, for example, *looks* fine, but isn't. He has a handicap tag. So it is possible that big-truck/little-d**k man has the same type of problem, too, that doesn't show. Maybe not, but you never know for sure.

Anyway, other than that, I concur with you on the traffic in other places. We live in a small town, in a small county, in west-central FL. I moved here from Washington, DC. I now complain about the 5 mile drive to the mall, and don't get me started on the main intersection in town after work hours or when the snowbirds are in season! Sometimes you have to wait TWO light cycles to get through the intersection! I no longer know how I lived - and thrived! - in WDC. I would go insane if I lived there again!

I enjoy reading your usually unvarnished slice of Key West life. It's helpful to hear about the irritants in Paradise, as well as the positives...


Jake said...


Update your blog posts on Twitter!

Anonymous said...

I see both sides. As a property owner I wouldn't want people parking close to my house or on the grass I maintain and keep looking nice. I also can't stand the look of cars parked all over the streets.

On the other hand I see the point that it's public property and these folks are overstepping their bounds.

There seems to be quite a few spaces open all the time at the Old Town garage. Perhaps the city should reduce the fee to get more people to use it and reduce the cars cluttering the sides of the road.

Anonymous said...

The Captain says:

You are all (including Gary)missing the point. Isn't it obvious? Get a bike! Or at the very least a scooter. I mean, my God, the island is only 5 miles. When I first "discovered" Key West I wondered: Why would anyone consider buying a home valued at close to a million dollars without parking? But then it dawned on me how liberating it was NOT to own a vehicle. Think of it. No car payment, no insurance payment, no gas, no repairs, no parking problems, no DUI, environmentally beneficial, and great exercise. It's a no brainer.

Come on people. This is paradise after all. Lose the car and be free at last.

Just think. If you never had to buy a car for the rest of your life, how happy would you be?

Captain out....

Anonymous said...

Great point on the no-car plan. When we finally make it to Key West, I am planning on only one car (instead of the three, down from four, we now have). I just have to talk my husband into it...



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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.