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Key West Reactor column
[Published in Key West The Newspaper on October 28, 2011.]
Key West Reactionaries
A previous column talked about how I’m partly known as “Key West Reactor” because of my public reactions to current events or the deeds of others. But few who know me consider me a “reactionary”, the term that commonly describes those who “shoot from the hip”. Those who “go off half-cocked”. Those who “engage tongue before putting brain in gear”. However, judging by our local daily newspaper column that calls itself the voice of our citizens or by some of the responses posted to local news stories or local blogs, Key West seems to be FULL of reactionaries…
[Please note that the quotes following are NOT direct copies of comments posted elsewhere. That would be plagiarism, or a usage violation -- and I must follow the “Journalists’ Creed”. However these quotes are very close to what your neighbor or my neighbor has spouted off in public media – usually under the protective cover of anonymity.]
Consider this common sentiment seen regularly in our papers:
“I can’t believe how stupid these tourists are! One actually asked me why we called ourselves the ‘Southernmost City’, when Hawaii is much further south. Damn tourons, don’t they know we’re the southernmost in the CONTINENTAL US?”
Ahem. Yeah, right. That makes them soooo stupid. Please.
I guess it gives some folks a feeling of superiority to find any excuse to debase the million plus who have to pay considerable bucks for a visit to our fair city – even an arbitrary excuse like confusion over our favorite catch-phrase. And isn’t it fun to come up with a new pejorative to describe them? Excuse me, no. We’ve all been tourists once upon a time. But of course WE never said anything stupid. Nope.
We all like to joke about funny things tourists ask (“Does the water go ALL the way around the island?”) but we must fight urges to develop a bad attitude about them. I personally LOVE trying to help visitors find their way, answering their questions, waiting for them to cross the street against the light. (Ummm, maybe not that last one so much.)
Here’s a witticism that comes up over and over:
“Anybody have a good iguana recipe? I’ve got the grill ready. Bring your pistol and have some target practice first. I’m so sick of them eating my flowers.”
People — the barn door has been opened and it ain’t closing. It’s time to accept reality: our fine green friends are here to stay. They aren’t going away, so WE must adapt. Killing them solves nothing, and bragging about brutally killing and eating them just shows your insensitivity to our fellow living creatures. (Yeah, yeah, I know: we eat chickens and cows, where’s my sympathy for them? I’ll save that for another column.)
There are ways to protect your flowering plants from iguanas. Yeah, it’s a hassle, and you didn’t expect to have to face that problem. But shit happens, deal with it. Don’t take it out on our little buddies for doing what comes naturally. (http://IguanaGirl.com)
Here’s another common expression:
“When are those fat-cat realtors going to get real about house prices? They’ll do anything to get another big fat commission to spend on expensive cars and travel. They’re keeping housing costs high and making our taxes go up.”
Slow down bubba..! Realtors are people, too, and tossing around misconceptions like that does nothing but breed ill will by those who don’t understand the real estate sales process. One needs to understand that it’s not the realtors that determine the prices – it’s the BUYERS. The sellers of houses quite often try to ask too much and good realtors rein them in. In the end though it’s what the buyers are willing to pay that sets the price.
And that “big fat commission” gets divided several ways before any of it ends up in their pocket. Cut half of it off the top for the split between the agent listing the house and the agent who brings around a buyer. Then chop it in half again for the split between the agent and their broker. “But that’s still a big number for those million-plus dollar houses,” you say. That’s true, but those only come around once in a long while for most agents. Just like a car salesman swinging a buyer for a rare Ferrari on his lot. Must you begrudge anybody ever getting a rare bonus?
When considering the number of sales for any particular agent in a year, the “in the pocket” average often isn’t much better than your average trolley driver. And during those dry stretches where buyers are far between, a realtor can’t draw unemployment. Fat-cats indeed.
Reactor to the reactionaries: If you’ve gotta spout, good tone makes for civilized discourse. And ignorance is NOT bliss…
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