Things about human nature that mystify me. Zoning, mail, and left lane drivers.
(This was originally posted in October 2012, a month after I started blogging. I added a few pictures and a couple of videos just for fun).
I’ll start with Zoning, since that’s the first word in the title of this rant.
The No Zone: In Houston, where some of my family lived for years, you see a lot of gas stations, grocery stores, banks, and business plazas at the corners of busy streets while residences are sandwiched into the middle of the block. If you live in the heart of the residential section, there aren’t any businesses. It works, as businesses don’t tend to want to build in the middle of the residential area for obvious reasons.
Business owners are acutely aware you can’t have a business if people can’t find you. There are streets that should span a mile or more, cut off by perpendicular blocks inconveniently positioned beside busy 4-lane roadways. You think you’re on the right road, then you’re faced with a house, have to go left or right, have to make a U-turn on the 4-lane, take another right, and find the road again. Believe me, it’s as frustrating as it sounds.
Zoned for Zombies: I can’t say that people purchasing a residence are as smart as the business owners, though. Take, for example, the person who buys the house facing the oncoming residential traffic in front of one of the cut-off roads or at a dead end. The lights coming into your living room at night, as well as the numerous drunks who think your living room is still part of the road, could drive you insane.
Then there are the people in California whose rooftops are barely visible from the end of the road. Never once have I seen a stop sign that can stop a determined driver from locating that rooftop as it soars past it. But, hey man, California is a different rant. I’m presently talking about ‘y’all’ country. If you’ve ever been in Bellaire, Texas, it’s a city that’s literally surrounded by Houston where mansions crying for an acre of land are, instead, squashed into lots originally partitioned for simple middle-class housing. Why would anyone want to build a $600,000 home in a place where you can reach out your window and touch your neighbor’s hand? It’s a testament to the fact that having money and having common sense don’t always go hand in hand.
The Buffer Zone: If I had $600,000, I’d buy enough land to ensure I wouldn’t have to see my neighbor. I might even add a 6-foot concrete fence to ensure curious neighbors and kids looking for a place to get pregnant can’t wander in.
The No Clue Zone: A little further south (and a lot further east), you have Florida—home of the elderly, the insane and those of us who think anything under 70 is cold and over 90 degrees is comfortable. Yes, native Floridians are those of us who watch people come from up north, cut down all the trees off their small lot, build houses with tiny windows and then complain about how high their A/C bill is and how hot it is in the summer. Well, duh. Of course it’s hot in the summer. It’s Florida. These are the same people who park under a coconut tree, enjoy the sights, then wonder where the dents in their car came from. With any luck, the fruit flak will hit hard enough to smash their window and they’ll never, ever, want to set foot in Florida again. Unfortunately, these are the same people who seem to make their way into political office instead. Hell, they have to pay for the A/C somehow.
Impossible Dream Zoning: Decades ago, Webb realty bought up a chunk of rural Florida with a grandiose dream—one that found a home in places like Deltona, near Orlando. There was also Jacksonville, and Tampa but you probably don’t hear about the areas that didn’t do quite as well. Do you want to know what the Florida heat does to northern brains?
The plot of land my parents bought had originally been zoned residential when Webb realty swept in, the local transplant politicians believing they would be swimming in tax dollars from the revenue as yet another development tried to swallow up more of the Florida countryside. My parents bought property in a very rural area, one that decades later has 3 modest homes and a couple of old trailers within a 1 mile radius. What is it zoned? It’s still considered residential. What does this mean? No chickens, no horses, and no anything else not usually found in a densely packed residential area—like Bellaire, Texas. I can tell you for an absolute fact that the ½ mile of trees in front of their home, as well as to the sides don’t give a flying flamingo whether or not there are chickens in the yard. Try to get the zoning changed and it’s like trying to show ancient Mayans the futility of human sacrifice. Greedy people hold on to greedy dreams, no matter how irrational.
Did I mention that “up north” is anyone north of Florida? That includes Georgia, Louisiana and most of Texas.
I’m going to move on to mail before I burst an artery.
MAIL: Whether you live on a residential street peppered with duplexes, or the trees have your back, it’s hard to get a refund if you have to say, “A box as large as my front porch was left at the door for the neighborhood to see and someone took it.” That got me to thinking (a level of being which many believe I should refrain from doing).
Hypocritical Mails: Another one of those things about human nature that mystifies me. We lock our doors, we get expensive home protection systems, then leave our most valuable non-organic assets–our identity–virtually unguarded as credit card information, personal letters, bank statements, checks, and other documents sit in an unlocked mailbox for hours while we’re at work. That screams “steal this, I’m an imbecile” louder than an expensive sports car parked in front of a dollar store.
FedUPS Rex (The dinosaurs of delivery): I’m always concerned with FedUPS deliveries because they often leave it at the doorstep. I once had a pair of $300+ glasses delivered to me which I thought would be going to my PO box. Instead, Fedups found a physical address through which to make the delivery (whether it was my address or not). It was located hours later by sheer coincidence. Why in the hell would anyone with 2 electrons of common sense do something as stupid as perch a tiny box that says “fragile”… from an optical shop…on top of a fence post? Are these the type of people who make an art out of blocking the left lane on a 4 lane divided highway?
That leads me to another artery buster: Left lane drivers.
Yes, there are people who think it’s okay to block the left lane. I think these people fall into one of 4 categories:
1. Superstore zombies coming home from a few hours of recreational aisle blocking.
2. Drivers who don’t give a crap about anyone else on the road for any reason other than number 4.
3. People who want to drive in the left lane because the asphalt is smoother (possibly a variation of number 2 but so incredibly obtuse it deserved its own category), and
4. People with menial jobs or retirees whose only micron of power is to make every other driver on the road absolutely miserable.
I lived near the latter at one time, a man with an elementary school education and a Trump-like attitude–but without the ability to create a corporate empire. He would meander down a 2-lane highway, winding enough to merit solid strips on both sides, traveling at 30 (sometimes even 35) miles per hour on a 60 mph road. In the rare event there was a place to pass, he would speed up to 60 or 70 to effectively prevent anyone from passing him. Then he complained about the bad drivers who cut him off–and the occasional person fed up with this power grab who rammed his vehicle off the road–never convinced that perhaps a change in behavior might be in order. Instead, he bought the biggest damned 20-year-old pickup truck he could find. This tactic proved futile against a semi that wasn’t impressed, his truck rolling over a few times while the driver continued on his way.
I like this video, where I can be a virtual passenger, and agree with the sentiment. The left lane is for passing, not for cruising. Music has a nice message to it, too.
If you’re one of the people, like my former neighbor who can’t understand why the left lane should be open for passing, pick your category number. The sunshine has effectively boiled your brain and you really, really need to consider moving up north. Waaay up north. Someplace like Mississippi.
There post is chock full of things I’d like to comment on. Excessive unoccupied strip-malls is a pet peeve of mine. They spring up everywhere and are never occupied for very long–if ever.
I’m close to NW Florida. Just because geographical boundaries were drawn between FL, Al, MS on the Gulf Coast, the type people there are the same. Most are transplanted from somewhere else–like myself. On my subdivision street and the next one over–there are no residents that were born here. The nearest big town was founded by a Chicago dentist. Another nearby town–Fairhope, AL was founded by utopians from Iowa.
Left-lane drivers are the lowest of the low. They are either self-appointed vigilantes–“I’m driving the speed limit by gosh, and have a right to be here;” or troglodytes that drive slower in the fast lane than in the right lane–when you try to get around them.
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Looks like we’re on the same page. There are several strip malls here like the one you described. There are rural areas where large populations people who weren’t born here live, too. We have everything from transplanted South Floridians originally from the North East who want to bring their former way of life up here, to scientists hiding in the woods and there are even some native Floridians still remaining in the area. 🙂
The weirdest local people I’ve run into–while working in a hardware store were the inventors and the native people from the swamps and delta. The inventors needed parts, but were paranoid about revealing too much. The swamp people didn’t trust anybody–only came out when they needed something. You didn’t ask them too many questions.
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It sounds like you’re living in the Twilight zone and I’m in the Outer Limits. 🙂
Something like that. 🙂
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