Key West is generally a laid-back island and, when grouped together, most people get along. But put folks in Key West upon something with wheels, then the vibe metamorphoses into something more batcrap crazy than Gary Busey on bath salts. Anyone in a car, motorcycle, scooter, large tricycle, electric rental contraption, bicycle, skateboard — they’re all at war. Except for the people on rollerblades. Other people on the road just feel sorry for them. And the rollerblader’s only real battle is when the mazes on pancake house placemats prove too difficult.
On this diminutive rock, there are no fewer than 7,500 to 10,000 people on some sort of wheeled conveyance at any given time. Where did I get those figures? The highly-esteemed think-tank known as the “Never You Mind and Just Read The Damned Article, You Skeptical Burlap Sack of Hobo Stew Foundation.”
I’ve had a few jobs driving in Key West, and I realized it’s like navigating a 1980s video game. Back then, driving games were about gingerly avoiding obstacles, and not maniacally obliterating them for extra points (the latter being the more satisfying option). In the Key West video game, it’s like, “Whoa! Car going down a one-way street!” “Yikes! Swerve around that daredevil skateboarder!” “Watch out! Guy biking and texting while wearing earbuds!”
Speaking of such. On the irresponsibility scale, texting while biking is pretty damned high. It’s right up there with leaving your baby in a dingo pen wearing a onesie made of raw lamb medallions. Watching someone texting while on a bicycle is one of those situations where you hope Darwinism would step in and remove this turdhat from the gene pool by steering him unwittingly into the path of a steamroller. Unfortunately, this world is not governed by cartoon laws — otherwise we would see many more fatalities due to pianos dropped from high-rises and exploding rocket skates.
Sometimes it seems like this island is akin to one of those electric, vibrating, toy football games; where the little plastic players just motorvate any which way with no set direction. (By the way, Googling “electric vibrating toy” before I got to the word “football” gave me an interesting array of suggested sites.)
The problem with the myriad of different transportation modes on our island is that it breeds hatred. Every wheeler assumes he has exclusive dominion over the asphalt of Key West. The streets have become the equivalent of a YouTube comments section; everyone is wrong but you. A common human trait is the propensity to blame others first, despite facts and logic. If an unleashed dog bit your face, the owner’s natural response would be, “Yeah? Well it’s probably because you smell like gravy!” There’s a lot of cursing and finger-pointing, (often with a select finger skyward.) It’s a jungle out there, so anytime you put rubber to road in K-dub, you have to be on your guard.
It’s a big honkin’ mess. You might ask, “Can’t we all just get along?” No. It’s why we have opposing sports teams, opposing politics, and opposing shows about competitive cupcake baking. All we can do while cruising in Key West is be cautious, try our best to be courteous, and look forward to the futuristic “Jetsons” days of moving walkways, hover-scooters, and flying cars.
I already have my deposit on a hover-scooter with a fella. He sold me hand cream on Duval once. I’m sure he’s legit.