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Hope I’m not a Pillar of Salt

November 10th, 2017

The Stink of Miami Surrounds Me Again

I am in Miami. I can’t believe it. I feel dirty. The air smells like fungus. The people have the manners of rats.

I had to come down here to look after a rental property. I am staying in a house we have to sell. I thought my friend Mike would be with me, but I had to drive down alone. Another friend of mine is house-sitting, so I won’t be alone all weekend.

Tomorrow I have to get up and try to get a condominium painted. After that, I plan to do my best to pack up a significant fraction of the many items the movers failed to…move.

While the time to drive to Miami was drawing near, I started to think of a series of scenes from Schindler’s List. Schindler thought he was moving his Jewish charges to safety in Czechoslovakia, but there was a railroad screwup, and the women ended up on a train to Auschwitz. I keep thinking about that. Of course, I would rather drive to Miami every day than be put in a death camp, but while the degree of discomfort is not comparable, the quality of the sensation is surely similar. I thought I had escaped this! Here I am, back in the place I hate.

In Ocala, I go to restaurants. It’s wonderful. Yes, you have to weed out the many slow and dirty places, but the people’s manners…it’s better than going for a massage. Everyone is polite. Everyone seems happy to see you. It’s hard to get in and out of restaurants because people get tangled up, trying to hold the door for each other.

Because it was late when I got into the house, tonight I decided to go to the Wendy’s from hell, at the intersection of South Dixie Highway and Red Road in Coral Gables. I have been visiting this snakepit on rare occasions since the 1980’s. It’s the reason I stopped going to Wendy’s. They ignore you. They snap at you. They usually get your order wrong. One genius at the drive-thru asked me what I DIDN’T want on my sandwich. I knew what I was in for, but I was willing to go anyway, because I was in a hurry.

A little lady who spoke poor English asked me what I wanted while looking at someone else and standing two feet from the register. She was doing some job or other, and I guess she just figured she would remember what I ordered. After living in Ocala for two months, I fully expected to be called “sweetheart” or “honey,” but I didn’t even get “sir.” As for “thank you,” well, if you think there was any chance of that, you haven’t been to Miami. She looked like a scared rat, and she worked like she was trying to finish and leave before ICE raided the place.

While she was taking my order, a familiar smell wafted over me. A bittersweet reunion was about to occur. It was my old friend, the one-eyed bum who goes into Taco Rico and screams until they let him fill his filthy cup with soda! We didn’t hug or anything. He and the counter lady had an exchange which I did not understand, and like the benighted workers at Taco Rico, she waited on him instead of calling the cops. I got to enjoy his pungent bouquet the whole time I was waiting for my order. Just the thing to sharpen the old appetite.

While I was waiting, I looked at the restaurant. In the old days, they used to decorate it nicely, even though it was a horrible place to eat. It used to look like a typical Wendy’s, with decor meeting the standards handed down from headquarters. Now it looks like it was furnished from the dump. The tables and chairs are cheap, and for some reason, there is a huge empty space with no furniture. On a Friday night that should have been busy, they had ten customers, including the bum.

I keep thinking this must be a corporate store, owned by Wendy’s itself. It must be a social experiment. My theory is that they find the most off-putting, obnoxious employees they can, from the worst neighborhoods imaginable, and then give them jobs in order to puff up their philanthropic credentials. I can’t think of any other reason why this place is permitted to exist.

Anyway, it was the cherry on the top of my Miami evening.


Tomorrow I’ll get up, do whatever I can to the condo, and come back and pack. I’ll put whatever I can in my truck, and on Sunday, I…am…out.

Eventually I’ll return with a U-Haul and pick up every useful item which remains.

I am going to get this town out of my life. Count on that.

I prayed in tongues the whole way here. My jaws are sore from it. I feel like I didn’t do it enough.

Now I will inflate my bed and try to sleep. I am counting the seconds until I can leave.

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