The kid drove us to Lakeland and if that's not shocking enough, we spent just shy of $20 for ice cream before heading home. "Dave Ramsey would not approve," I remarked, thinking of our Financial Peace Plan as I counted out enough change to sink a small fishing boat. "Well, Dave's not here," Mr. Harris reminded me, adding it was good because we couldn't have afforded to buy him an ice cream if he had been. Furthermore, it was clear the young man handling our transaction hadn't had to count that many coins for maybe forever.
The ice cream, enjoyed in the bright Florida sunshine certainly ensured we didn't get stone cold, and encouraged us to eat quickly before it melted. I found myself feeling slightly guilty for our good fortune of choosing Florida as our place of residence. Thinking of a recent voice mail from my sister, who is deeply buried in snow and doing her annual questioning of why the H.E. double hockey sticks she stays there, made me feel a bit humbled. "Hey," Mr. Harris reminded me, "everyone knows Florida's warm. If they don't care to make the effort to relocate, that's their problem."
I know there was a push a while back for Floridians to invite their far-flung families to vacation here in hopes of boosting the economy. I suggest now is the time to heavily market our frozen neighbors far away. While cancelled flights, heavy snowfall and miserable traveling conditions makes it seem counter-intuitive to advertise to ice-glazed Yankees, hear me out.
Having lived in the Great White North, I can assure you starting your day clearing off the car, shoveling the driveway and de-icing the door locks before heading back indoors to warm and dry your sweaty, but also frozen body, gets old. You drink hot coffee or cocoa as you wait for the plow truck, knowing once it passes, you'll have to go outside again and re-shovel the snow pushed back into the driveway.
If you are able to get your creaking, frozen vehicle onto the roadways, you drive on slippery, snow-crusted, rock-salted roads that crunch under your tires, drowning out the sounds of rust monsters rasping their teeth against the precious metal of your ride. Approaching intersections filled with fellow travelers, everyone is making up for missed Sunday service with mantras of prayers mixed with words you can't say in front of most Grandmas. It wears on a body, really it does.
Shopping trips to stock up on necessities before the next blizzard, keeping cat litter in the trunk in case you get stuck and wearing three layers of clothes, not because you are making a fashion statement, but rather because you might actually freeze if you don't, makes one desperate for alternatives.
Here's where sun-drenched, wave-filled, golf-infused commercials endlessly playing on loop with intermittent housing ads could help us blow our economy right out of the blue-green gulf waters. Our hypothermic northern neighbors will be sitting around their living rooms, wearing blankets, slippers and coveralls, still freezing with thermostats locked on 65. Breezy commercials of regular folks going about their daily routine sans coats, snow shovels or windshield scrapers would be like an epiphany.
Let's remind them we really do drive with our tops down and go fishing year round. There's still room here for a few more folks or they could just stay up north and wait for the next wave of frigid weather. Hope to see y'all soon.