Disturbance on the Central Florida Coast – Views of Obama

Arrived in Florida (Central Atlantic Coast) in the middle of the night.

Arriving in Florida is always a bit of a shock;  usually, it’s the humidity, the immediate and improbable moistness of the air.  But this time we left an onslaught of driving rain in New York City and arrived to a dry cool night.

We were met by a car service driver I’ve used for years whom I view as something of a friend.  I think the friendship is reciprocated (as evidenced by the fact that he was willing to wait for us till 1 a.m.)

Although my daughter asked me, before we met our driver’s car, to please not get in an argument about Obama, one started almost immediately.  The driver began it, actually, bringing up a story about how some other passenger, a military guy, had told him Obama was a terrorist against the U.S.  (This seemed to be a view for which the driver had some sympathy.)

I protested, despite my daughter’s stiffening in the backseat.

Our discussion heated up from there.  Eventually, even the daughter who had asked me not to argue broke in on the pro-Obama side.

I really like this driver.  He is extremely good-natured and sweet.  Even after I resorted to the F-word— our discussion had moved on through a variety of topics to 9/11–as a New Yorker who lives in downtown Manhattan, I feel like I have a closeness to 9/11 that simply cannot be approximated by people living on the Florida coast—he chuckled,  surprised both by my vehemence and my views, but not offended.

It all goes to show how different the country is outside of New York City, a difference that is almost unimaginable to me from downtown Manhattan.

The difference was reinforced later in the day, as we walked (which is unusual in itself here–but hey I’m a New Yorker, I walk) to a fast food franchise to pick up a favorite dish of my dad.  These places exist in New York City, but they are not on my immediate family’s radar.  Yes, this is probably due to a kind of elitism–though it’s really more of a nutritional and culinary elitism than economic.  New York has a plethora of amazing, unfranchised, food.   If my kids are hungry, they’ll go for a slice, a bagel,  spring rolls,  salt and pepper squid.

All the young and middle-aged people both serving and being served  were big, almost overflowing.   It’s a cliché, but, in this case at least, the truth.    We felt puny in comparison, ordered baked potatoes to share.

In the evening, the difference I went jogging on the only  nearby bit of sidewalk.  I tripped twice—the sidewalk turned out to be rutted—then was chased by a free-roaming Pomeranian that actually ran all the way across the street.

Okay, I’ll admit it;  I’m emphasizing the negative.   Frankly, there are lovely things about Florida and almost all the people  I deal with here are kind, polite, patient, personally generous; many  are not in the least bit overweight; the State, in fact, went for Obama in the 2008 election.

But when I hear this knee-jerk dislike/distrust of Obama, a distrust that not only questions the legitimacy of his presidency but also of his citizenship, it’s hard to feel like we are from the same planet, much less the same country.

The good news, I guess,  is that I called the driver to apologize;  he laughed again, said he really enjoyed our discussion, seemed to mean it.

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