One of my favorite times of the year is winter. The refreshing pause from the constant Florida heat, and the nice break from school is a winning combination that I welcome every year. One thing that that comes with winter that most Floridians find unwelcoming is the arrival of the snowbirds.
Every year there are more and more of them, and now most of them are staying. Like refugees from a war-torn country, they escape the snow storms and the shoveling of snow off the driveway for some sand and a tan.
It’s hard to really hate on snowbirds to be honest. They more or less are just a group of intelligent, well-traveled people who would rather not have their fingers fall off from getting frostbite while trying to scrape the ice off their windshields every morning. Instead, they choose to enjoy the best seasons in the comfort of their homes outside of Florida. Once the sky thinks about making snow, they pack up their cars and head to South Florida where they disregard all traffic laws (they fit in pretty well with that) and buy everything in sight but don’t tip well.
Politicians love the snowbirds. They bring jobs. They buy all those touristy T-shirts you see for sale downtown and on the boardwalk. Statistics report that for every 85 snowbirds, one job is created. That’s pretty good considering more than 200,000 snowbird refuges will make the trip down here this winter.
However, locals are the main opponent to these ancestral migrants. Having to deal with them in every day life is the real problem. Waiting behind them as they order from Pollo Tropical for the first time. Franticly hitting the brake pedal to avoid a Québécois crossing four lanes of traffic to make an exit.
The worst is answering the never ending questions of “where is the mall/beach/restaurant/hotel/gift shop?” There is no pretending that they are beneficial to the economy. But the cost snowbirds do inadvertently to Florida’s mental health could be argued to exceed the income garnered.
I’m not losing sleep from the influx of tourists to Ft. Lauderdale, but I think we all could benefit from a little less congestion on the highway and being able to get a seat at a restaurant without waiting a half-hour. Luckily they leave in spring, so, until then, strap on your boots because they aren’t going anywhere.
It’s easy to not appreciate all the good things snowbirds do for us because most of us are students. We don’t see much from the money that the snowbirds bring. We don’t own businesses, and they don’t come onto NSU’s campus to bother us, so avoiding them is fairly easy. But at least remember that when you see an old man or woman in their Lincoln town car with Massachusetts/New York/ New Jersey plates blocking two lanes of traffic, signaling left when he or she wants to go right while his or her windshield wipers are flapping away, that these people are walking bags of money that might be your meal ticket if you are looking for a job this winter.