Now that the snowbirds and tourists are starting to flock to Florida for the winter, here are a few tips on how to tell them from the residents:
- They drive with their blinker on. Always.
- They drive 5 M.P.H. no matter what the posted limit as they search for wherever they were going.
- They spend a lot of time looking up. The sky is blue and the trees are green.
- They wear plaid shorts, sandals and black socks. You know who you are.
- They pay for everything with change from the center console. One penny at a time.
- They feed seagulls. What is wrong with you?
Okay, I admit, I just committed over half of these things on the list while meandering around New England. I didn’t know where I was most of the time; I slowed down to see if that helped me figure out where I was, and I had my blinker on a lot. I found out that Connecticut residents were the friendliest! They honk and wave a lot!
I also paid for things with the change piling up in the center console. But, I never, ever fed the seagulls.
One of the first lessons I learned in Florida 35-plus years ago was that you don’t feed the seagulls. Not because they aren’t appreciative, but because that’s a sure way to reenact a scene right out of Hitchcock’s The Birds.
I remember sitting on the boardwalk enjoying the ocean and marveling at my surroundings when I saw some people walking on the beach. I don’t know who started it, but someone tossed something out for one seagull. One thousand showed up. They screamed. They dove. They fought. And they pooped. People were running for cover while keeping their arms over their heads.
It was awesome.
You have to watch those birds at all times, and even when you don’t see them coming, they can swoop in fast and furious. I watched them steal pepperoni off of a piece of pizza the size of a travel brochure. He dove down, snatched the pepperoni on the pizza slice, and was gone before my son could even get the food halfway to his mouth.
Busch Gardens was up close and personal in those days.
Feed them if you like, but remember what Hitchcock said:
Melanie Daniels: Oh Daddy, there were hundreds of them... Just now, not fifteen minutes ago... at the school... the birds didn't attack until the children were outside the school... crows, I think... Oh, I don't know, Daddy, is there a difference between crows and blackbirds?... I think these were crows, hundreds of them... Yes, they attacked the children. Attacked them!
Mrs. Bundy: There is very definitely a difference, Miss... They're both perching birds, of course, but quite different species... I would hardly think that either species would have sufficient intelligence to launch a massed attack. Their brain pans are not big enough... Birds are not aggressive creatures, Miss. They bring beauty into the world. It is mankind, rather... It is mankind, rather, who insists upon making it difficult for life to exist on this planet. Now if it were not for birds...
Deke Carter: Mrs. Bundy, you don't seem to understand. This young lady said there was an attack on the school.
Mrs. Bundy: Impossible!
Melanie Daniels: Mitch? Oh I'm glad I caught you. Something terrible...
Drunk: 'It's the end of the world.' Thus sayeth the Lord God unto the mountains and the hills, and the rivers and the valleys. Behold I, even I shall bring a sword upon ya. And I will devastate your high places. Ezekiel, chapter six.
Waitress: Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink.
Drunk: Isaiah, chapter five. It's the end of the world.
Mrs. Bundy: I hardly think a few birds are going to bring about the end of the world.
Melanie Daniels: These weren't a few birds.
Deke Carter: I didn't know there were many crows in Bodega Bay this time of year.
Mrs. Bundy: The crow is a permanent resident throughout his range. In fact, during our Christmas count, we recorded...
Sebastian Sholes: How many gulls did you count, Mrs. Bundy?... The ones that have been playing devil with my fishing boats... Oh, a flock of gulls nearly capsized one of my boats. Practically tore the skipper's arm off.
Mrs. Bundy: The gulls went after your fish, Mr. Sholes. Really - let's be logical about this.
Melanie Daniels: I think they were after the children...to kill them.
Mrs. Bundy: Birds have been on this planet, Miss Daniels, since Archaeopteryx, a hundred and forty million years ago. Doesn't it seem odd that they'd wait all that time to start a...a war against humanity.
Salesman: Your captain should have shot at them... Gulls are scavengers anyway. Most birds are. Get yourselves guns and wipe them off the face of the earth.
Mrs. Bundy: That would hardly be possible... Because there are eight thousand, six hundred and fifty species of birds in the world today, Mr. Carter. It is estimated that five billion, seven hundred and fifty million birds live in the United States alone. The five continents of the world...
Salesman: Kill 'em all. Get rid of them. Messy animals.
Mrs. Bundy: ...probably contain more than a hundred billion birds.
Drunk: It's the end of the world.
Sebastian Sholes: Those gulls must have been after the fish.
Mrs. Bundy: Of course.
Boy: Are the birds gonna eat us, Mommy?
Mrs. Bundy: The very concept is unimaginable. Why, if that happened, we wouldn't have a chance! How could we possibly hope to fight them?
Want to see more Hitchcock? Here's a link to all of his movies on Amazon.