Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Experiences in the Big City

I’ve never been to New York, but I think that if I live in south Florida any longer, I may never need to visit. It seems to me that the people of Fort Lauderdale, and it’s other trendy sister cities, are adapting many of the same qualities that make the city of New York unattractive and unbearable.

Everybody has heard the horror stories told about New York, and of the people who live there. The traffic there is horrendous, so bad in fact, most people don’t even own a car. And the infamous attitudes of many “New Yorkers” don’t do anything to help the city’s image, New Yorkers are known worldwide to be quite pushy and impatient. A close friend’s parent, who hailed from New York, told me once “the people there would rather step over top of someone, than wait five seconds for them to stand back up.” I can’t imagine living in a city where things such as these were what I saw and heard everyday, but then I look around at South Florida and realize that I already do.

I may still be young, and have a whole lot of growing up to do, but I have never found anything wrong with the “do unto others” philosophy that my mother drilled into my head as a kid. For me, it always worked just like magic; a friendly smile to someone on the street always got me a friendly smile in return. So, it was quite a shock for me the first time I held open a door for someone here in Fort Lauderdale, and this older man in his business suit walked right through – without so much as a smile or “thank you” nod.

Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I just wasn’t prepared for the “culture shock” of moving to South Florida. Understand, after living most of my life in Port Charlotte, I was excited at the thought of going away to college in a “big” city like Tallahassee. Maybe it was the fact that I could still order sweet tea in a restaurant, or it could have been the friendly faces on people I’d never met, but Tallahassee didn’t seem much bigger than Port Charlotte to me. So, when the chance opened up for me to transfer to FAU and move to Fort Lauderdale, I wasn’t all that nervous about how I’d fit in here in South Florida.

Within a day of being here, I was given the finger three times and almost run off the road while getting on 595. Even more of an introduction to Fort Lauderdale was the afternoon that I spent sitting at an intersection for what seemed like twenty minutes, waiting for someone to stop and let me in. Car after car flew by, and even when the light turned red and I thought I would be able to slide in, the cars continued to line up – completely blocking the intersection. I remember thinking as I stared through the passenger side window at the smug woman sitting in the car in front of me, waiting for her to look over and make eye contact with me (which she never did, she just sat there staring forward like she hadn’t done anything wrong), wondering how concern and respect for another person could change so much from place to place.

That was a couple months back, and many things still seem the same. Every morning I get up and listen to the traffic report, try to avoid those delays, only to get caught in another delay. I’ve been in the checkout line at the grocery store holding two items, behind a person with thirty. That person with thirty items has still never invited me to go ahead of them. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been flipped off or beeped at, but I also can’t remember how many times I saw a smile appear on someone’s face just from hearing my simple “hello”. I know that I will never be able to change the attitudes of everybody here in Fort Lauderdale, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try.

And if you readers think it is just me who has the problem, check the internet or tune into CNN. Just last week I saw a poll crowning Fort Lauderdale/Miami at the city with the “rudest drivers in the country.” And somewhere close behind was New York City, a nice benefit for those people to broke to travel to the “Big Apple.” Now, without ever leaving town, a person can experience all the “charm” that New York has to offer.

So how to we get back to the South Florida of old? The South Florida populated with golf courses and newly retired schoolteachers? Think back to when you were a kid, when the most important rule was the one you learned in kindergarten – the Golden Rule. If we do unto others and they do unto us, we will once again discover how powerful a smile can be.

John Hurley is a senior at Florida Atlantic University, who recently moved to Fort Lauderdale. He says, “My youthfulness makes me question many of the things my mother has taught me.”

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