On the Road Again

It took me awhile to get oriented and registered to drive in Florida, but now I’m back in business.  A few snippets from my first couple of weeks:

My first ride was disappointing.  It was national donut day.  The somewhat overweight, tattooed young lady and her friend stopped at Duncan Donuts, then on to work.  The half hour ride only generated about $3.50 for me.  Things weren’t looking too good for me at that point!  Next, however – I met my new hairdresser, Jessica.  Since she tipped me for the ride to work, I decided to return the favor with my first Florida haircut.

A young woman who was born in Colombia told me about her father, a money launderer in days past.  He apparently washed huge sums of money in the good old days of the cocaine cowboys.  They had several homes in Miami, scores of businesses there and in Colombia and had quite a life until he was arrested, sent to prison for a year, but was released due to lack of sufficient evidence to put him away longer.  He can’t come back to the US, though.  The young lady is quite ill and awaiting a liver transplant. 

A “professional drunk” by his own description told me of his exploits in the Caribbean and South Florida.  In graphic terms he explained how to make a woman happy through oral sex.  “They immediately fall in love.”  He suggested getting rid of my wife and going to “Celebration” where there are plenty of wealthy widows to choose from.  Thanks to his bartender for sending him home with an UBER ride. 

I’d never met anyone from Siberia until last week.  She told me about the prisons there and the terrible cold.  Just as I had imagined.  Now she’s a tester for a tech firm in North Palm Beach – what a difference!

I’d never thought about the boat industry here until I drove a couple of guys who were working on a yacht – refitting with the latest electronics.  They told me that South Florida is the yacht capital of the world.  They were making good money but stressed out because of the volume of work they have with no time to take a break (I dropped them off at 8 pm and they were about to finish a job that would last through the night and next day).  Where does all the money come from that owns all these mammoth yachts? 

Two attractive but overweight young ladies had me take them to their AA meeting at 8 am last week.  I think they were living in a half-way house.  They could have been sisters, but one had a deep southern accent from Georgia.  The other was “typical” New York.  I was touched and impressed with their commitment – and hope they don’t fall off the wagon.  Florida seems to be a good place for a second start (including for me!). 

I learned that the area is has one of the highest densities of rehab centers, half-way houses, etc. but I haven’t seen the kind of crack-inspired desolation that I became used to in California. 

Further South, in the West Palm Beach/Riviera Beach area, I had several pick-ups from Haitian and other immigrants who needed rides to work or school.  I wonder what they would to if there weren’t ride sharing businesses?  We seem to provide a much-needed service for people who really need us – even though they may barely be able to afford it.  What other choice do they have?

On the flip side, I drove a gentlemen from my Rocky Point neighborhood to pick up his car.  He explained that he was criticized for buying his 1 acre waterfront lot a decade or more ago for $150,000 on which he built his home.  It’s now worth probably 10 times as much and he’s sitting pretty.  He’s able to work from home as a nuclear energy consultant.  That’s the Florida lifestyle that most idealize.  A beautiful home on the water, a big boat and a generally stress-free life.  But you don’t need all of that – I’ll explain in due time.