Saturday, December 18, 2010

7 years in Miami: A retrospect

This afternoon, El Hombre and I were driving to our favorite Argentine bakery for some empanadas, when it hit me. It's been almost seven years since I moved to Miami. It's strange because it seems like a long time ago, but at the same time, sometimes it seems like it was only two or three years ago.

From the moment I moved here, things were different. From having a homeless guy try to open my windows in my old apartment (subsequently, I moved out as fast as possible), being laid off a month and a half after moving here, getting my second degree black belt and getting a masters degree, I have gone through a lot. Miami is tough, and South Beach is tougher. I lived on the beach for three years, and often held two - three jobs just to get by. This included waiting tables at Nikki Beach (I quickly learned that I hate waiting tables and am terrible at it), retail management (it's easier to upsell when you are waiting on drunk people who just rolled off Ocean Drive) and hospitality of sorts.

Anyways, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned since I moved here:
- It's ok to buy your produce off the back of a truck. It's cheaper and better than the grocery
- Finding parking on South Beach is a nightmare. Finding parking on the Gables campus of UM on a Tuesday or Thursday is even worse
- Yes you will probably be towed
- No you don't have to pay the meters on Sunday in Coral Gables
- Everyone in Miami drives by the rules of the country from which they originate
- After a light turns red, AT LEAST 4 cars are allowed to turn left
- People in Miami may be rude, but people in Boca Raton are worse
- Learning Spanish is important, but every so often it's better to feign ignorance in a conversation
- The La Carreta on Bird Road can withstand anything, including fire
- If anything happens in Cuba, or a new "Fidel is dead" rumor catches, it will be on the front page of the Miami Herald and there will be crowds of people outside the aforementioned La Carreta and Versailles
- Homestead has the best produce AND the best Farmer's Market
- If you tell someone you don't speak Spanish, be prepared for a lecture
- Channel 7 will always lead with American Idol, no matter what else is happening around the world
- There are random chickens and peacocks all over the city
- Coffee is cheaper and better at Cuban bakeries
- If you talk about the lack of hills in Miami, there will always be that one person who references the hill at Tropical Park
- Santa's Enchanted Forest is a nightmare and an eyesore. It looks like the Christmas Faerie vomited her hangover all over Tropical Park
- Seeing Miami via boat is a whole different experience
- Fairchild is amazing, but so are the Pinecrest Gardens and not as many people know about them
- Vizcaya is super cool to boat up to. You can never really get the full appreciation for it until you see all angles.
- There are good people in Miami, but you probably won't meet them in South Beach clubs
- South Beach clubs are extremely overrated and after awhile you get tired of going places where a beer is $15 and you have to wear shoes that make you want to cut your feet off. When that happens, you will migrate to downtown and Brickell
- People in Coral Gables are surprisingly nice and shop owners welcome your business
- You will never get good service in South Beach. It's not even worth complaining about anymore.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Worst Valet Ever

So normally I don't valet my car. It's not just that I don't feel high roller enough, it's also that I used to work for a rental car company on the beach and I knew alot of valet guys. I saw it all - kids crashing $50k cars, stealing things out of cars, joyriding, etc. Normally I would rather shell out the money for a garage and keep my keys in my pocket. But yesterday El Hombre and I were up at Riverfront for my company holiday party, the company is reimbursing me for valet, and I don't know that area at all, so I figured, "What the hell? How bad can it be?"

Well, after waiting over an hour for the car yesterday, I found out. Ameripark Valet Services, as it turns out, is the worst valet company in the world. Nobody was running the booth, because apparently the company is too cheap to hire more than 3 guys to work a Saturday night during season and the same night as the boat parade. Smart. So there was nobody running the booth. This resulted in the following: People who showed up 30 minutes after me getting their cars before me, nobody knowing where my car keys were and an extremely angry crowd. Normally I am patient, but when I am the only person being nice to the valet guy, and he explodes at me that everyone else came first, I lost it. Magically my car appeared after I made an extremely angry call to the corporate center and then accused the guys of either crashing my car in the parking lot or taking it for a joyride.

So my advice? Avoid this parking company at all costs. They are poorly run, overpriced, poorly staffed and have worse customer service than any company, restaurant or store on South Beach. And that's saying a lot.