Hey SnowBirds! We Really Don't Care! How tourists can be rude to Locals.
Snow Birds and their complaints and criticisms
OK, I am walking on some thin ice here, but as my wife tells me, too often, by the way, I just can't keep my feet out of my mouth.
First of all, I was born and raised in Virginia, and at one point, I was transferred to a job in North Carolina where I worked for another ten years.
We lived there up until I retired, at which time, we moved to South Carolina.
We lived there for over seven years and we finally moved to Florida last year.
During our careers, both of our jobs required us to travel extensively around the world where we learned to enjoy the diversity of peoples and cultures that we came in contact with.
And over the past 7-8 years my wife and I have been lucky enough to take our Motorhome on trips around the US and meet diverse people from almost every; walk of life, ethnicity, age, and social standing.
Always be Considerate and Understanding of Others
One of the first things that we both learned, decades ago, in our jobs, and then in our travels, is best described in an old adage, that carries a lot of truth for us all. That adage is;
Whenever in Rome, do as the Romans Do!
Now, I really don'y know where this old saying originated, but it is a solid and valid little piece of truth that is based on something very core to people and their relationships with each other, everywhere.
People Do Not Like to be Told that they are doing things wrong.
In our travels, in small town and large cities, in the highlands and in the lowlands, people might look different or speak differently but they are all pretty much considerate and thoughtful with their fellow man.
And, we have also found that; People, wherever you go around the world, DO NOT like for strangers, especially strangers from somewhere else, to tell them that they are doing something wrong.
And, to rudely tell someone, anyone, "where I come from we do it this way" is well, just wrong!
What I have learned, is that if you see people doing something differently from how you did it, leave it alone, or wait until you understand them better before criticizing anything!
Wherever you go, there are people that have a different culture, in a different land, in a different climate, etc. that for some reason drove them to evolve "their way" of doing things.
It doesn't matter if you are talking about; something as simple as cooking potatoes, or as complex as the design of their houses.
For example, you may visit an area where everyone and their families and local friends might eat more Beets than Potatoes.
Also, two days drive away you may find that; for some reason, these local people might not eat Beets at all, but may have potatoes or Rice or some other starch as a food staple.
Or, in your travels, you may end up sitting next to someone from an Asian country, who when served a bowl of rice will for instance, grab a pair of chopsticks and holding the bow lright under their chin, will literally shovel the rice into their mouths.
Making fun of the Beet eater, or the Rice eater will not make you a new friend.
Nope, you will have just cultivated a new member of a growing group that thinks you are the crazy person, not them.
You see, if you are not a true local of a community or country, you are the one with strange habits, not the locals. And your criticisms will always be considered crude, rude and socially unacceptable.
Living in a mostly SnowBird community
When we recently bought a house here in Central Florida on the Gulf Coast, it was because the house was in a very active 55+ community.
We saw that it was full of great people, and loaded with options and activities for those that want to socialize, exercise, learn, dance, travel, and more.
In fact, there is so much to do, that you can literally wear yourself out, if you are not careful.
We love the community and we love the people, and we had a great summer, those of us that have our homes here as our primary residence.
As the Summer went on, I kept hearing about the "Snowbirds" and how things really changed in the community when they showed up.
I just laughed, because, in reality, those years that I lived in the Carolina's, I had been a Snowbird, by definition, because we had always taken our Motorhome to other parts of the South for the Winter, to take advantage of the better climate, among other reasons.
And, I had been called a Snowbird by people in campgrounds from Florida to California.
But, I really had never had a problem, of any sort, and we got along greatly with everyone we met, regardless of where we were, and who we socialized with.
So, wondering, I asked around and soon learned more about just who was called a SnowBird.
What is a Snowbird, anyway.
Simply put there are three major groupings of SnowBirds.
There are the three-month Snowbirds who take a long vacation in the South and then head back to their homes up North.
These are mostly renters, for the simple reason that it is usually not economically viable to own a place in the South and just use it for three months of vacation.
You will meet and see these people, for several months, anytime from September through March, and then they disappear until the next warm season.
The Second grouping of Snowbirds are the Canadians. Like all people, many of the Canadians enjoy spending the cold winter season in a warmer climate, particularly in Florida.
But, the Canadians have a special set of circumstances that control their travels. They have to deal with the Canadian laws, the US laws, and the local State laws that all seem to limit their stay in the US and outside of Canada to six months maximum.
So, even though some of the Canadians will stay in the US for only a few months, most of them, that can afford it, I guess, will stay for the full six months they are limited to before they return home.
Then there are the six-month US SnowBirds. As a group, they also are mostly from the Northeast portion of the US, although you will see license plates from all over the US.
And, they typically have or had the resources, to purchase a second home in Florida while keeping their original home in the northern or other parts of the US.
They still live in their original homes and they have their homes, campers or condos in the South just for running away from the winter cold.
I have met many people, over the years that fit into these categories, and as a group, they are all great people to know and socialize with.
But, there are some, not many, but some, that project a feeling of arrogant disdain for the local people and their lifestyle, their habits and their ways of living.
These few are the ones who have driven so many of the native people of the South, as well as many transplants, to use the term SNOWBIRDS with a sneer on their lips.
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Snow Birds, We Don't Care!
You See, after years of listening to the snide comments, hearing the constant complaints about the food, observing the smaller than deserved tips being doled out, and seeing so many hard working people being ridiculed, I have to say this:
WE DON'T CARE!
We don't care How you did it up North!
If you did it so damned well there, then go back up North.
We don't care if your Italian Spaghetti Sauce is better than our Italian Spaghetti Sauce.
If you don't like ours, don't keep ordering it and complaining about it. Get something else.
We do't care if you can't find your favorite "Good Italian Bread" down here!
Try some good Cuban Bread, or handmade Mexican Tacos, or Southern style Biscuits. They are all great, so expand your tastes.
We don't care if you can't find any good Italian or Polish, or whatever, sausages and meats down here!
Again, try some of the great Cajun, or Southern-style, or Cuban or Mexican, or other Latino sausages and meats, many of which are considered, around the world to be unique and savory, and often even talked about as delicacies..
We don't care if you don't like our Southern Accents!
We think you sound funny too, but we're too polite to make fun of you.
It 's called Southern Courtesy. You know, being polite. I know you've heard of it, even if you don't practice it.
Don't make fun of how we drive!
If you look closely, most of the crappy drivers, in Florida especially, are actually the transplanted Northerners, not native Southerners.
When you are served a good meal, give a good Tip!
The people serving you down here, in the South, just like the ones that serve you up North, get next to nothing as a base salary. They live on their Tips and they deserve the appropriate size tip for their service.
Just because you are trying to "pinch your pennies" while vacationing, if you cannot afford to tip then you cannot afford to eat out so often.
The list goes on and on, and here are some more examples.
We don't care if your roads are better up North!
We don't care if your auto service is better up North!
We don't care if your restaurants are better up North!
We don't care if your hotels are better up North!
We don't care if you have better clothes in your stores up North!
And On,and On, and ON, ad nauseam!
WE JUST DON'T CARE!
What we DO KNOW about up North!
Well, we do know about a few things that are different up North, and also why you are spending so much time down here among us Slow Stupid Southerners:
We know that you hate the Cold Winters up North! And, you will spend almost anything to get away from them,
We know that your Property taxes are astronomical up North!
We know that your Home Prices are very High up North!
We know that your Fuel and Heating costs are very High up North!
We know, that you know, that Property taxes, Sales taxes, and Income taxes are much lower in the South than in the North!
We know, that you know, that Housing Costs are very low in the South, relative to those in the North.
We Know, that You Know, that Labor costs are much lower in the south than in the North.
We know, that You know, that Fresh Food costs are much cheaper down here and they are available longer during the year, than up North!
You see, we might be a little slow as I have heard some of you say about us, but We Are Not Stupid!
We know that you wish you could live year-round in an area where it is warm in the winter, food costs are extremely low, and fresh fruits and vegetables are available year round.
But, for whatever reason you don't move here, you just visit and complain incessantly about any and everything that you can, and damn whoever's feelings you might hurt.
But, Come on Down! Anyway!
A very long time ago, when I was in the Navy, I was stationed at a Naval Base in Brunswick Georgia.
Several times, while there, some friends and I hopped in a car and drove the short distance into Florida and down to Jacksonville for a weekend.
Back then, when you crossed the state line into Florida, there was sign on the side of the highway. It stated another simple truth. it said;
WELCOME TO FLORIDA!
HELP KEEP FLORIDA GREEN!
It stated a simple truth back then, and of course it's just not politically correct to have such a sign on a roadside anymore.
So, whether you are one of the many nice people from up North, somewhere, or even if you are one of those rare and insensitive ones ........ Come on Down!
Come on Down and have a good Time while you are here, but please remember that old saying I mentioned earlier, about being in ROME!
Try to live with us, and our idiosyncrasies, and we will try to understand and live with yours.
Then, we can all have a good time and enjoy each others company in our great climate!
But .......don't forget...... Bring Money!
What is a Florida Snowbird
© 2012 Don Bobbitt