Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Downtown For A Change

We promised ourselves a jaunt downtown this weekend, in the fond hope there would be no drama like car wrecks or mayhem and we just about got away with it.  The object of the Sunday after ride was to see the Oscar nominated live action shorts (the ones that use  human actors). Once upon a time Oscar nominated films only got seen by the Academy, that secretive body of Hollywood bigwigs who decide the merits of movies, and usually make a hash of it. Nowadays streaming, videos and theaters all offer us plebs a chance to see them and form our own opinions. So we went to the Tropic for 90 minutes of not-work-related oblivion.
It was a lovely evening, just a couple of weeks away from summer time which will extend evening daylight. Florida lawmakers have petitioned the Federal Government to make a couple of major changes in the state.First, and I think this may not be a bad idea, they want to incorporate the western panhandle, the part west of Tallahassee and Port St Joe into the Eastern time zone. Administratively it makes sense though sunrise and sunset may be a bit odd and not what they are used to...
The other change is to keep Florida on summer time year round. This I think would be a mistake for several reasons, as attractive as the idea may at first appear. It means that in winter it will be dark till about 7:30 in the morning which will not help commuters and students and schools even after they have dragged themselves from bed "in the middle of the night." Secondly Florida is a winter tourist state. Suddenly visitors from the Eastern seaboard will have to figure out the time difference. The modern inability to figure out how to tie a shoelace or change a car wheel gives me no confidence at all tourists from Atlanta to Portland will be able to remember that the time is different in Florida or by how much. Confusion will reign in all time zones, especially as in the summer the times will be the same in some areas... I remember visiting Arizona and the hotel reception at the Grand Canyon had a sign reminding guests about the time difference with California, next door and a huge source of tourists, but Arizona doesn't use summer time and creates confusion as it's time effectively moves back and forth out of step with it's neighbors. 
Walking back to the car in its secret free parking spot I pondered the outrageous fee charged at the post office, $20 for two hours (with a  discount if you are going to the movies) in the post office lot over the weekend. Key West is now filling up with winter residents who seemed to have held back this year arriving later perhaps to give advance parties time to scout out the (non existent) hurricane damage. They are now here in force complaining  about parking and eccentric people and so forth in the usual way. I wish they brought more than money, perhaps joy and cheerfulness and eccentricity and tolerance with them. One snowbird told me he pays $2500 a year in taxes and he expects to be able to park in front of his own home. I wanted to point out it doesn't work that way but I sent parking control instead. Sigh.
I had hoped to go for a walk before work but there was no time so my wife dropped me off next to my Vespa parked in front of the building and she went off to Publix to hunt for food, while I braced for another endless night of taking complaints. I am amazed by the number of people who manage o drink themselves insensible in public places. If you come across a sleeper on the sidewalk note the location and a  brief description (white male 60 years old green shirt blue shorts for example) and call 911. We are quite used to sending officers out to scoop the lost souls up and help them home or to the drunk tank. Florida law requires them to be handed over to someone who can take care of them and if they can't figure that out they end up at the jail in protective custody to get sober safely. Such a powerful drive to seek oblivion....
Day fades to night and the police station goes dark. The sergeant's office downstairs is where the supervising gets done, while the report writing room is where computers are available to fill out the reams of paperwork television shows never reveal. Most cops push more paper than guns - you'd be amazed. And then the only three civilians in the building sit upstairs, unarmed except for radios telephones and patience and wait for morning.
After 20 years in the Keys and 14 years at the police station I have forgotten a  few things:  that it usually snows in February in the Northern Hemisphere. And I have also forgotten most people sleep at night and don't deal with angry violent people at work. I wonder how I will feel when it is all over in three years and six months (but who's counting?). I plan to enjoy retirement.