i'd rather be in haena   

or anyplace with more trees and less concrete

Subdivision. Strip Mall. Industrial Park. Subdivision. Mall. Subdivision. Strip Mall. Mall…

by admin - April 20th, 2006.
Filed under: big box retail, complaining, florida, how to alienate me, small talk.

I’m in Plantation, Florida, commuting to Coral Springs every day for meetings.
The climate is a bit like Hawaii, minus the breeze. It’s steamy. Last night I checked into a Holiday Inn Express around midnight. It was 80 degrees out and the humidity felt around 90%. Nasty.
There is an overwhelming, endless flatness to the landscape. On Nova last week I heard that there’s a possibility melting Arctic ice could raise sea levels dozens of feet in the next couple centuries. The narrator specifically mentioned that Florida would be under water if this happened. I don’t believe this event would put the area in a league with Atlantis, however.
The drive today was bleak. There’s very little open space; nearly everything is paved. There are more malls and strip malls than I’ve ever seen in one area– even Fremont. Last October Hurricane Wilma swept through the area and a lot of the trees got beat up. The palms look especially sad.
My motel room has no minifridge and the place doesn’t seem to believe in ice machines, so I had no choice but to forage for a styrofoam ice chest today. After driving for an hour I realized the strip malls were packed with nothing but dreary restaurants, nail salons and real estate storefronts– there was no place to go except Wal-Mart. Entering its doors was a sobering cultural experience. I shelled out $1.48 plus tax for a disposable cooler and felt horribly guilty. Still do.
On the way back from Wal-Mart I tried to find someplace that sold alcohol in order to make the motel room seem more bearable at the end of the day– it took me nearly another hour. There are NO liquor stores here, and few grocery stores. I finally ended up paying $13.00 for a warm bottle of Clos du Bois chardonnay at a CVS.
Driving is an experience in itself. Most of the main roads are 6-lane boulevards with 45 mph speed limiits. People tailgate and weave around slower traffic. Motorcycles blast away from stoplights, popping wheelies as they open it up to speed two blocks to the next red light. There’s a lot of pro-war and pro-Bush bumpersickers, and faded/tattered American flags flying from SUV windowframes.
The area is seems full of….well, what I can only describe as McPeople. Zombies staggering through life pushing shopping carts full of cheap plastic crap, emptying them into SUVs. I know that makes me sound like a terrible, misanthopic snob. I’m sorry. And now I think I know one of the reasons why people from Europe are freaked out when they visit the United States. It seems like every second or third person living here is borderline morbidly-obese.
I returned to the motel to discover that the newly-built pool was not yet ready to accept swimming clientele. bah. I did have a really nice dinner, cooked at a suspiciously empty health-food restaurant run by an Indian family. I ordered sauteed chicken with stir-fry organic vegetables. An older woman prepared it for me and the meal was excellent, made even better by the warm and beautiful smile she gave me when I arrived and when I left. I’ll go back there again tomorrow.
I am such a blue stater. It makes me appreciate the Bay area more than ever. Even if I do seem like a character out of a certain South Park episode.

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