Miami: Disappointing Expectations Since 1566

This is my theory: when Ponce de Leon couldn’t find the fountain of youth, he decided to build the city equivalent of an Arby’s as revenge on southern Florida.

Let me be clear: I hate this town. If I can swing it, I’m never coming back and, unless you’re coming through here on your way to someplace else, I would recommend that you avoid it too. Holy God does this place suck.

Recently, to help me stay on track with with my writing, I’ve been working on adopting some of the useful basic principles of Buddhism. Principle number one? Expectations will get you into trouble. Take things as they come. The more specific your expectations, the greater the chance that you’ll be disappointed, (even if what you have or get is excellent). Since I wasn’t pumped or even prepped to go to Miami in the first place, I would have said I didn’t have any expectations to disappoint. Turns out I was wrong. Apparently, having traveled a fair amount, I did have some basic expectations of how things would go down based on previous experience, and Miami, God love ‘er, disappointed them all.

The $600-a-night hotel

(Mandarin Oriental Miami)

Expectation: I am paying you the equivalent of monthly rent on a studio apartment every single night, so you will give me everything I want, including a puppy. You will not leak.

Miami re-set: No puppy. Does leak. (Which they could’ve seen coming because the shower has no seals. Or consistent water pressure. Or water that gets fully hot.)

My personal bathroom favorite: useless plaza of space in front of the tub instead of any storage or counter space around the sink? Check.

Enormous TV? Yes. Reception on a par with the rabbit ears we had in 1976? Yup. Gratuitous charge for valet parking on top of ridiculous room rate? Absolutely. Make yourself at home kids: you’re in Miami now!

South Beach

Expectation: Clubs. Views of the water. Hotties in skimpy clothing/swimwear. Clubs. Cuban food. Clubs.

Miami re-set: Tourists, chain stores, bad plastic surgery, hos whose clothes look like Marimekko‘s evil neon twin threw up on Forever 21. No cool bars. Clubs that look like New Jersey threw up on Ibiza.

Public transportation

Expectation: Large, low-income population = significant investment in public transportation.

Miami re-set: Completely unventilated and unairconditioned single car monorail running above the urban wasteland of empty lots and freeways, dropping off nowhere useful. Hooray for city planning!

Bayshore neighborhood where concierge sends us for a look at “downtown Miami”

Expectation: Retro pastel architecture. People. Possible tourist crap by the water.

Miami re-set: Utter crap by water. No people.

Coconut Grove

Expectation as set by multiple web sites + a book: “Bohemian” neighborhood, possibly not as bad as downtown. Getting into the swing of Miami, I lower my expectations to maybe finding one bookstore and a hip jewelry store.

Miami re-set: “Bohemian” = The Cheesecake Factory, Johnny Rocket’s, the Gap and endless pawn shops.

Miami International Airport

Expectation: No worse than Newark.

Miami re-set: Much worse than Newark. As if air travel weren’t almost unbearable already, MIA is barely air-conditioned in 80-degree heat, so the place is a huge steam room. The check-in area is a huge mess, the ceilings are low and the water in the water fountains is warm. Mmmm. Tasty, tasty warm.

American Airlines

Expectation: Standard American experience: fairly low rate, mediocre service, sanitized entertainment.

Miami re-set: The check-in kiosk asks R to pay a $799 flight fee (does anyone comply with an $800 request from a kiosk?) for a “flight change” even though he’s on his original flight. The planes out and back are the worst planes I’ve been on in years: the seats are worn into buckets, there are no adjustable headrests and they seat a 10-year-old in the exit row, for that extra boost of confidence. Realizing their error just before take-off, they replace him with a 70-year-old woman in a wheelchair. Well, thank God for that.

The movie? The Day the Earth Stood Still, possibly the worst thing that’s made it into wide release in the last year. Our stewardess shoves R as she blows through security, says, “Goddamit!” distintincly in front of the 10-year-old when she can’t find the right change, drops my drink napkin onto the middle of my keyboard and R’s into the middle of his book, and leaves a trail of ice cubes in the aisle as a sign of disdain for her job. These guys rule – how could I be disappointed? Now I’m just impressed they haven’t knifed anyone.

Expectation removal achieved! Thanks, Miami!

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Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany


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