I heard that 32 Million people would travel in the United States over the holiday weekend. You can see a photo of all of them above, jamming up I-4 and keeping me from getting to my house on Saturday afternoon. It was a dead stop with cops and fire trucks and stupid people trying to slip around them when it was pretty clear they wanted us all to stop. My fellow Americans, some of you are selfish morons. It's not worth risking someone else's life just so you can get to the beach.
If there's anything I've learned about Memorial Day, it's that this holiday has the sound of a cash register to our law enforcement community. Every year, they claim to have a “crackdown” on speeders with zero tolerance. Altamonte Springs was particularly vicious about patrolling 436, which is why I decided to boycott the entire community this year. I don't want to give my business to a community that can't keep its law enforcement officers in check. Zero tolerance makes for a good sound bite, but it's stupid. One of the cornerstones of our criminal justice system is that police officers have discretion. Preventing the cop at the scene from using his or her discretion doesn't help our safety. It's just a grab for money. Pure and simple, speeding crackdowns are about the money. They may have started out of concern for safety, but those days are long since gone. Chasing cars down a busy 436 for going a couple miles over the limit (zero tolerance, remember?) is not in the interest of public safety.
True to their claims, I saw plenty of cops along I-4 running down speeders. The Seminole County Sheriff's Office definitely made use of its new motorcycles. The Florida Highway Patrol was quite visible, also. I wonder what they do with the money they collect from these special “zero tolerance crackdowns.” Maybe that's how they got the new motorcycles.
Sanford was the only local community that seemed to have a parade to honor our veterans. Most other communities declared they didn't have the money to put on the parade, fund the police (who were busy raising funds by issuing tickets), and basically made other excuses. A number of people decided to celebrate by giving up their own lives in the name of stupidity. A guy jumped off a boat in Lake Underhill and drowned. An Orlando man visiting Miami jumped off a bridge and died on impact. Boaters in Ponce Inlet decided to crash into each other, killing two people, including a woman who was reported to be nine months pregnant. Others decided to visit the same places (beaches, attractions, etc.) and suffered in the Florida heat and crowds. Some of my friends went to Las Vegas to deal with the crowds and stifling heat there.
My own take on the holiday weekend is to relax near home. Get some things done and stay out of the way. I had dinner with friends by Lake Eola one night, lunch at Houston's a couple of times. I love the red bean soup there, but they only serve it on Monday. It's usually not practical for me to get to Houston's with my usual routine, so going there on a Monday and having the red bean soup is a bit of a treat for me. It doesn't take much to make me happy. Just avoid the crowds, mind the speed traps, and a good bowl of red bean soup. So what did you do?