While sitting around with friends the other evening, the subject of the annual migration of many wildlife species came up. This young lady and her friends love to make their way over to Tigertail Beach on occasion. From that venue, you have the opportunity to watch the many species of birds that join together and make their way south from the cooler regions of the north.
Eventually, our conversation turned to the seasonal birds that do not sport any feathers at all. Many of them migrate to the area from states that the rest of us have escaped from over the years. Some of them, such as myself, made their way here three decades ago or more, while others are still discovering where to find the library or the post office.
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett captured the essence of what we all share here when he penned the song, “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” which he wrote and released in 1977. He was right again when he added the line, “nothing quite remains the same,” to one of his big hits.
I hope that you might take the time to listen to those lyrics and again begin to let the words sink in. Like Buffet, at one time in my life I also enjoyed rum, but those days have long been put aside. However, a couple of years ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to Rum Chata at a golf event she chaired for me, and since then, it has become an occasional friend of mine.
I am so pleased that many of the friendships I’ve had the privilege to make here are with folks that share the Buffett philosophy on life. They understand that changing the latitudes we migrated from has helped to change our attitudes on life itself. It allows us to mellow out a little bit, and at times, not take ourselves so seriously while enjoying the wonderful paradise that we call home.
I guess now that I’ve lulled you into a more mellow mood, I can now unload the irritating habits some people have failed to leave behind, whether they are here for a two-week vacation, six month seasonal visit, or they are full-time residents with a sense of entitlement.
When you pull through a parking lot, take your hand off the horn button. Nothing is more annoying then listening to you blast that horn. You are not back in New York, Chicago or Boston. Be a little courteous and have a little patience. And for God’s sake, slow down.
That little stick that extends out horizontally from the left side of your steering wheel is your blinker. Try to use it once in a while, as a friend of mind occasionally reminds me.
When you let your children or grandkids take the car with the handicapped sticker on it, please remind them that the car is not the recipient of this courtesy granted by law, it is the individual to which it was issued. My point is, remind your visitors that we respect those with physical challenges and understand what it means to have an issue (as many of our residents do).
Park properly. Don’t take up two spots because you have an expensive car and you feel entitled. Parking is at a premium during season, so be polite.
Be patient and courteous with staff who are doing their best for you, no matter where you shop or eat. Many establishments are short-handed, so please be patient. Being rude and disrespectful will not ingratiate you to anyone.
As far as gratuities are concerned, please remember that none are included as part of your bill unless it is otherwise stated. Tips are how the waitstaff is compensated for their service. Without that compensation, there will be no one to perform that service.
If you go to the beach or rent a boat, everything that goes with you for the day should be properly disposed of, and not left on the boat or on the beach. There are no attendants to clean up after you.
Be smart about shopping. Do you really need two dozen rolls of paper towels or a similar amount of toilet paper for a two-week visit?
We live in a great place, and with a few minor adjustments in how we interact with each other, we could make it even more enjoyable for everyone. The items I’ve mentioned today in my column can be contributed to both seasonal visitors and fulltime residents. The interaction between us all is vital to how we are perceived by those who we come into contact with, whether it is for a short-time or over many years we’ll share together as neighbors and friends.
Will Rogers, well known humorist, author and columnist (amongst other talents), was once quoted as saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Let’s make sure we always put our best foot forward as the rest of the world drops by and visits with us.