The snowbird migration is in full swing down here in the South. This is where northerners, predominantly retirees, make their annual trek to Florida to spend the winter. Their money is particularly needed as Florida’s economy is still reeling from the recession and we have high unemployment. Nonetheless, there is a price to be paid for having our neighbors from the north flock down here.

For starters, you have to put up with some God-awful drivers. There are New Yorkers in SUV’s who think they own the road, people from Ontario who believe they are always driving in a school zone, and others from the Midwest who are just plain lost. Such eclectic driving habits causes some rather strange “stop and go” traffic. As if driving in Florida wasn’t bad enough already, traffic volume is easily doubled during snowbird season.

When the snowbirds arrive, they are typically on a tight budget, particularly Canadians who know how to pinch a penny that would have even embarrassed Jack Benny. I don’t know who the genius was who invented the “Early Bird” restaurant specials beginning at 4:00pm, but they timed this perfectly to snarl rush hour traffic. Snowbirds flock to “Early Bird” dining, as well as anyone offering a pancake breakfast or spaghetti dinner for $5 or less. They sniff these bargains out like a Bloodhound and consume more than their money’s worth. God forbid they find a defenseless buffet as they would attack it like piranhas attacking a wounded water buffalo.

You know the snowbird season is in full swing as you watch the trailer parks fill to capacity. You see just about every kind of RV imaginable, either pulling a Smart Car or something comparable, or pulling trailers containing motorcycles and other equipment. If you visit such a park you get the feeling you are visiting a U.N. refugee camp as you hear the various dialects and idioms whereby it is easy to distinguish a visitor from Massachusetts from someone in Ontario, versus Illinois, versus Ohio, etc. The Germans and English also like to visit but are easier to spot as they generally wear less clothing on the beach than everybody else, and not in a flattering manner I might add. Whereas native Floridians think the weather is cool or chilly, the Europeans think it is a heat wave.

This brings up a point, perhaps the best way to distinguish a native Floridian from a snowbird is to simply visit the beaches. A true Floridian won’t be seen on one from November to March as they think it is too cold. Everyone else is a snowbird. The half naked people soaking up the sun in t-backs (including men) are from Frankfort and London. It’s that easy.

All this aside, snowbirds tend to be quite cordial, and as I mentioned, we could certainly use a cash infusion. There is only one real problem with snowbirds, fewer and fewer migrate home at the end of the season and decide to nest permanently down here.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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