Florida things that scare Floridians, sort of ranked
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 10:00PM

There have been several internet memes going around that express the Florida things that Floridians are scared of, and as a self-identified Florida Man, I thought I would weigh in. 

Now in fairness, I am not native Floridian.  Until the age of 10, I lived in a smallish town in east central Illinois, but not only have I called this great state home since 1984, I can say I have visited every single county, a majority of its towns and cities, and having driven four cars in my career over the 200,000 mile mark, I've seen more of this place than most, thus I feel at least relatively competent and qualified to opine on this important, and oft-discussed subject.

So here goes – rather than ranking them, I am putting them into tiers.


Not really that scared of.

Sharks.    Floridians are generally not scared of sharks – tourists, and people who have moved here are scared of sharks.  Only one person has been killed by a shark in Florida in the last decade, which is fewer than have been killed by cannibals…in Florida.   Not saying we like sharks, but it isn’t an existential fear. But nonetheless, they make the list.

Alligators.  Floridians are also not typically scared of alligators – again, most of the fear comes from tourists.  On the flip side, Floridians will usually try to get a picture of said alligator when they are close to one, mostly to get a reaction on Facebook from their non-Florida friends.  Respect alligators?  Hell Yes.  Those dinosaur-like creatures have survived here without living in air conditioning or mosquito control (more on this later) for a lot longer than people have lived here.  Gonna walk our dogs near one?  No.  But do we live in fear of them because they sometimes wander down the street?  Nope.

Florida Man.  Florida Man and Florida Woman live among us.  They are our friends, and our families – and your friends and family as well.   Think about it:  Who lives in Florida?  Well, the vast majority of Floridians either moved here, or are born to people who moved here.  In other words, to paraphrase the words of former Delaware US Senate candidate, and noted wicken, Christine O’Donnell, We are not a witch – we are nothing you’ve heard America, Florida Man and Florida Woman is you.   Own it America.


Tiny bit scared of.

Fire Ants.   When I was a kid, we had a dog that once peed into a pile of fire ants, and never again stepped on the grass.  Since Floridians generally don’t wear socks, or closed-toe shoes – particularly in the summer, fire ants are a real threat.  See some guy running around the neighborhood frantically trying take off his shoes and asking to borrow your hose?  No, he isn't possessed - he stepped in a fire ant pile.  Don’t believe me – go walk through a pile in your flip-flops, and see what happens.

Mosquitoes.   Florida wouldn’t be a place without mosquito control.  No one would live here, because we have mutant mosquitoes that can bite through all three layers of clothes we own.  Honestly, the person who invented mosquito control should probably be a Florida hero, with a monument in their honor.  How bad are the mosquitoes? Sometimes, you will see Florida Man in long sleeve shirt on a 100-degree, 90 percent humidity, just to mitigate mosquitoes.  For this reason, they are on the list.


Things legit a bit scary

Publix closing.  We wouldn’t know where to get food if Publix closed – just ask any Floridian who forgot something they need for a holiday meal on one of the days they are actually closed.  There are other grocery stores, allegedly, but most of us don’t know where they are.  

Roaches/Palmetto Bugs.    We don’t have those little roaches that you all freak out about – no, we have massive flying cockroaches, known as palmetto bugs, that are often big enough to hold up a bank.  Ever want to know when someone new to Florida has moved into your neighborhood – just listen for the blood curdling scream of a new Floridian dealing with a palmetto bug flying at them for the first time.

Snakes.   We have a lot of snakes here, and like most Floridians, the vast majority of snakes are harmless, and perform important tasks for society.  That being said, we have several snakes that can and will legit kill you, hence you will often see Floridians post on facebook or twitter a picture of a snake, crowd-sourcing whether said snake is good for society, or about to kill them.  We also have snakes in the everglades that can eat an entire deer, and we have snakes that jump out of trees along rivers, and we have snakes that have been known to work their way through septic plumbing and show up in people’s toilets. 

Weather Under 50 – or in S Florida, under 65.   Here in North Florida, it gets below freezing a few times a year, so we at least own a coat or a hoodie, but no one here he is prepared for any kind of weather.  Go to South Florida, and when it is below 70, you will see people in boots and fur.  Seeing someone in a sweatshirt, shorts and flip-flops when it is cold is normal – and comes from the sheer fact for most of us, that’s probably the warmest set of clothing we own. 


Things that scare Floridians more than they let on.

Hurricanes.  For all the appearances of Florida man drinking beer in a lawn chair during a cat 3, running down Main Street shirtless with an American flag, or shooting guns toward hurricanes, actual Floridians do take most hurricanes - or at least those above Cat 1 pretty seriously.  Floridians are like animals sensing danger – they instinctively know when to get out of town.  If a Floridian is getting out of dodge, you should to. 

Evacuating from a hurricane.   Ever spend 15 hours on the Florida turnpike, searching for gas and only eating Cinnabon from a toll plaza service plaza?  Yeah, it sucks.  

Driving.    As my friend Tom Eldon says, Floridians drive as though they are a complete peace with God.  Others have suggested, for example, that Floridians view turn signals as a sign of weakness.  Florida interstates are kind of a bad combo of Mad Max, Survivor, and Seinfeld.   I’ve driven in some unique foreign places, and well, I’ll take most over I-4.   Add into it 100 million tourists a year, and the fact the state is seemingly an endless construction zone, and yeah, Floridians know driving here sucks. 


Things that really scare Floridians.

Nothing.  As the old tourism slogan goes, it is different here.


Thing that Floridians live in fear of.

Broken Air Conditioning.    Like mosquito control, Florida would be largely uninhabitable without air conditioning.  There is a reason why Florida has honored the inventor of air conditioning – himself a Floridian – with a statue in the United States Capitol.  John Gorrie is a legit hero to everyone who lives here.  All things being equal, this is really the only thing that truly frightens a Floridian -- except maybe, the combination of evacuating a hurricane in I-4 traffic without AC. 



Article originally appeared on Steve Schale -- Veteran Florida Man Politico (http://steveschale.com/).
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