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THE RETURN OF THE SNOWBIRDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 7, 2012

BRYCE ON LIFE

– It’s that time of the year again.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

They began to trickle back into the area in early October, but now the migration is in full bloom with the various trailer courts filling up down here in Florida. I am, of course, talking about “Snowbirds,” retirees who are escaping the chilly north in favor of a warmer climate for the winter. We rely on the snowbirds heavily as they greatly support our economy through tourism. They may clog the roads and restaurants, speak with some strange dialects, but we welcome them warmly this time of year (“Don-cha-know”).

When the Snowbirds arrive, native Floridians typically drive to work a little earlier, and expect to eat at a restaurant a little later than normal, all to give the tourists ample time to enjoy themselves. The only problem we have with them is their varying driving habits. How someone from Michigan drives is considerably different than someone from New York, which is different than someone from Maine, Ohio, and just about anywhere else. It’s very exasperating to drive under such conditions which tests our patience.

The trademark of the Snowbird is, of course, the Recreational Vehicle (RV) which comes in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and costs. Whatever the size, they somehow manage to clog the roads and Walmart parking lots. I’m always amazed by owners of opulent RV’s who do not have another form of transportation, such as a bicycle, motor scooter, or automobile. They have to do a lot of walking otherwise. Close to our office is a trailer court where I’ve seen a Snowbird with a state-of-the-art bus-length RV which includes a tow hitch to pull an equally impressive trailer. Inside the trailer are two beautiful motorcycles and a complete shop to maintain them. Although I consider it a rather smart setup, I would be concerned with driving such “Hogs” down here which can be a rather dangerous proposition.

Over the years I have learned there are RV groups who enjoy traveling in “caravans” throughout North America, and Florida gets more than their fair share this time of year. A caravan is nothing more than a group of friends who travel together as a support group on outings. The first RV in line is considered the “Wagon Master” to lead the group. Somehow the image of Gil Favor leading a cattle drive in “Rawhide” comes to mind. The last RV in line is called the “Tail Gunner” which is reminiscent of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Such caravans represent considerable money to trailer park owners and, as such, they are warmly received.

Although you can easily detect snowbirds by their vernacular, you can just as easily spot them by their attitude which borders on pompous arrogance. Coming from the north, they somehow believe southerners are rubes who know nothing, that only northerners know how things should be done. As a displaced northerner myself who settled here many years ago, I am acutely aware of the cultural divide. I have learned Southerners know plenty, they just express themselves differently than their northern counterparts. They may seem rather cold initially, but if you are kind and open to suggestion, they make you feel right at home. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the food of the south who enjoy such things as grits, different interpretations of barbecue, and such oddities as crawdads and deep fried turkey. Northerners simply do not understand southern cuisine. Then again, it took them about 100 years to learn to appreciate southern fried chicken.

Quite often you will hear snowbirds lament, “That’s not how we do it back home.” Maybe not, but you are not in the north anymore and you have to learn to acclimate to the local culture. This begins by losing the stuffy northern attitude, relaxing, and learning to enjoy southern hospitality. Welcome Y’all!

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of  M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

 

NEXT UP:  OPERATING ON AUTOPILOT – What happens when we fall into a rut.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

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13 Responses to “THE RETURN OF THE SNOWBIRDS”

  1. I can’t imagine driving, let alone living in one of those airless things. I’d kill my husband.

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A C.M. of Atlanta, Georgia wrote…

    “Our RV Baby is all waxed (quite a chore, btw) winterized, and covered from bow to stern for the, hopefully, non-winter-like Atlanta winter.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A D.T. of North Carolina wrote…

    “I read this as my In-laws are sitting here at our house, en-route to NJ for Christmas, only to return around New Years back to Fla… their migration north will recur at or about April 2013.

    Thanks for continuing with the blog – I frequently pass along your email updates and share your thoughts, observations, and ruminations.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A W.S. of Michigan wrote…

    “This was interesting…..

    Where I live, on the great lakes, we get the summer people……most of them are gone after Labor Day….but a few come back for some weekends, like Thanksgiving…….then, we do not see any of them until sometime in March (depending on the weather, and when Easter is that year), when they start coming back some weekends…..

    The ones we get around here are usually from the Chicago area, and believe they are above the law…..they do whatever they want, and get away with most of it….

    But you probably already know that, as now they are your problem…”

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    An S.S. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “Absolutely Hilarious, love the picture! Happy Friday!”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A J.T. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “Wow, such nice words for the people coming down here that keep sooooo many of us in business. Now I do understand why so many of those snowbirds are going to the east coast instead of here.”

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Arizona wrote…

    “This is ‘snowbird country’ too, with some similar symptoms. I have no issues with it all for the most part (wish I could do that), but you do need to drive more defensively this time of year. I tend to think it more related to age groups and being in unfamiliar territory though, than where they are from…? “

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Here in Michigan, a goodly number of retirees head south with the geese every year to warm their bones in the Florida sunshine. They come back in the summer telling tales about how wonderful everything is in Florida. Sometimes they’ll have a new card game to teach us. I envy them. “

    Like

  9. Tim Bryce said

    A U.V. of Largo, Florida wrote…

    “Since I volunteer at Largo Med’s ER, I can tell you they also fill our hospitals. Especially Canadians who have their medical procedures here in the USA, instead of waiting months for the same thing in Canada. And they are a lovely people who have a wicked sense of humor.”

    Like

  10. Francis Dryden said

    Hi Tim,
    I now reside in Lake Chapala area of Mexico… With our “second best climate in the world” (don’t know where the best is) … There is another phenomena called the Sunbirds from Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, etc. from May to October and we love them down here if for no other reason, they leave those “mobile sleeping quarters” at home or better yet, don’t buy them!… Oh and we have Snowbirds from October to May… It is temperate all year, 365 days of golf and affordable.

    By the way… There is an English speaking Lodge and Shrine Club here too!

    Bro. Francis Dryden

    Like

  11. Tim Bryce said

    A K.E. of Sacramento, California wrote…

    “It would be nice to join them all when it gets so cold! Never thought about all the changes the locals would have to adapt to… “

    Like

  12. Tim Bryce said

    An M.M. of Cincinnati, Ohio wrote…

    “Having lived in both the Gulf Coast and Central Florida, I’ve seen the snowbirds. While some might complain, they do help the economy. I remember when I managed a gift store in Central FL. We hated seeing the RVs going north after Easter on US 27.

    Personally, I had more problems with the way retired folks who lived in FL all year long drove than those who came to visit for a few months. I include my deceased father in this one. Bless his heart. When he drove in Pittsburgh, he was a good driver. When he retired and toured the country, he was a good driver. Then he moved to St. Pete and became one of those folks who get in the left lane on US 19 because they want to make a left turn….10 miles down the road! Why do they do that?!?!?

    Like

  13. Tim Bryce said

    An R.S. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “You know how they named Canada don’t you? They put all the letters of the alphabet in a bowl. The first letter they pulled the guy said “thats C ehh…N ehh” Yup the Canadians are always first to arrive only makes sense as I hear it gets cold in dem dare parts pretty quick. Another sure way to know they (the Snowbirds) are amongst us the increase in traffic. I was having lunch on Main St at the Athens and saw the traffic at Bayshore and Main backed up past 2nd ave. It wasn’t the Long Island Expressway jam but it was interesting all the same. My sister is a N.Y. Snowboid she comes down to her condo in West Palm but not till after the 1st of the new year. But it’s good to see them back and shopping on Main St. “easily spot them by their attitude which borders on pompous arrogance” ahh but when they talk to me they get confused because I speak Chicago with New York mixed in it…”

    Like

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