Snowbirds - A People Watching Study

Instead of a study of a particular fictional character, this month I'm going to take a look at a real group that I have had many opportunities to people watch over the years - Snowbirds.

For those of you who don't know, a "Snowbird" is person, usually of retired age, who escape the harsh Midwestern winters by living in the Southwest for 3 to 5 months out of the year. Some who fall into this category are awesome human beings - the type who exude kindness, intelligence, and a good sense of humor towards this mess we call life.

Then, there are those who think they need to prove some kind of stereotype. It's like they step off the plane each year and are handed a checklist of annoying habits. A few things that are observed year after year include:

1. The number of people who wear perfume instead of deodorant goes from non-existent to 1/3 of the gym population.

2. Complaints about the youth of the world in a tactless, hypocritical way

3. Complaints about not being able to use coupons which are designated for stores that only exist in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois

4. Making constant, unflattering comparisons between their state of origin and the state in which they are visiting

5. Staying in crowded restaurants for a very long time and wearing down the servers who are just trying to seat the waiting public

6. And of course, most notably, the traffic. From November to March, rush hour traffic (both am and pm) is infinitely more crowded. It becomes an epic tale of driving woe at 6:30 in the morning, when all you want to do is merge, but the elderly man in the Buick beside you is too busy listening to his wife to notice your turn signal. Where are they even going so early in the morning?

And again, this not meant to be a generalization, it's more of repeated behavior I have witnessed (especially when I used to work retail near a retirement community). Why is this way it is? If we were to breakdown these actions in the same way we would a fictional character, what would we find? What creates a sense of privilege when you are a place which is only your home half of the year? Is this what Persephone was like when she was in the Underworld? Did she always insist that the pomegranates from the surface world we sweeter than the ones Hades gave her? And why couldn't he just bring pomegranates from the surface? Would that me so inconvenient?

People watching is one of the best tools in a writer's trade. Even if the subject is driving you nuts, let your mind wander as you watch.