Podcast 012: Hurricane Response …Florida Style

In This Episode: Hurricane Irma is a major disaster, so how does Florida handle the aftermath? With typical Floridiocy, of course. Plus, another segment of No Longer Weird, and the story of an everyday hero.

Click to see larger.

Jump To…

Show Notes

  • Yeah, I know I messed up explaining the pool fence issue. Pool fences are safety issues for two main reasons: to keep wandering toddlers away, and to counter the “attractive nuisance” of a place that may be attractive to older kids who want to go swim, but there is no one there to supervise. I find it difficult to believe that any parent is going to let their toddler wander around to fall in accidentally when pretty much everything is dangerous outside in the days after such a storm, and there is no “attraction” to a totally trashed pool — what I was alluding to in the episode. Thus the fence being down is an immediate threat to live that must be fixed within an hour? Hardly. So those are my thoughts, which Clare immediately grasped, but on listening to it later, I see I did a poor job of making my thoughts clear.
  • The No Longer Weird story: Armed Carjacking Foiled When Teen Didn’t Know How to Drive Manual Transmission, Authorities Say (Birmingham News).
  • The Arby’s visit was in Elko, Nevada, on September 26. I’d love to know who the shift manager was!

How to Subscribe

Support Uncommon Sense on Patreon: at the $4 level, you’ll also get the Premium edition of TRUE’s newsletter.

Search for Uncommon Sense in your podcast app or on iTunes, or manually enter this feed URL into your app: https://thisistrue.com/feed/podcast

Also available via Google Play, PlayerFM, TuneIn, Podfanatic, ListenNotes, Overcast, Stitcher — and, presumably, more to come.

Comments and Questions?

Your comments on this episode are welcome below. Questions can be added there, sent via this site’s Contact Page, or tweeted to @ThisIsTrue.


Randy: Welcome to Uncommon Sense, the podcast where we delve a little more deeply into the stories and issues discussed in the thisistrue.com newsletter. I’m Randy Cassingham.

Clare: And I’m Clare Angelica.

Randy: This week we’re discussing a story from Issue 1215 of the newsletter, which will be included on the Show Page at thisistrue.com/podcast12. So this story has to do with Hurricane Irma whacking Florida.

…I thought I’d pause to see if you wanted to add anything….

Clare: Whacking! It did, it did a number on Florida.

Randy: So six hours after the sun came out finally, and people started coming out of their shelters and all that, and finding out what happened outside, what was destroyed, one of the victims, Celso Perez of Miami-Dade County, went out to find out what was going on. He said “We have a lot of trees down in the street and the streets were blocked. We were out here, us and our neighbors, cutting the branches down and trying to open the streets.” They probably shouldn’t have opened the streets because that allowed a county official to drive up, six hours after the hurricane, to threaten the guy, and his neighbors. Perez says “he said he would have to cite me for having my fence down” — hours after a major hurricane blew through the area. Perez said “I laughed — I thought he was kidding.” He wasn’t. So Celso has a pool in his yard and that took the fence down apparently, and that means, perhaps, kids trying to go swimming in a mucked-up, destroyed swimming pool might not be able to because hey: there’s no fence!

Clare: There might be alligators in there too, I wouldn’t want to find out!

Randy: But yeah, I mean seriously. So hours after the hurricane Perez says, “At the time this officer was out here, we didn’t have power. We didn’t have food. The mayor said that the county would help us recover from the storm, and were there to help us.” But apparently instead we’ve got officious officials threatening to cite them and give them fines. Perez says, “Give us a minute to breathe! Let us get our power back on. I wouldn’t mind if they told us, you know, a few days down the line or in due time, but it bothers me that they came out here just a few hours after the storm passed,” in order to threaten him.

The county didn’t have a problem with this: they actually admitted they handed out 680 pool barrier safety notices, and 177 electrical hazard safety notices to homeowners in the hours after the storm. Mind-boggling!

Clare: It’s appalling! I can’t believe they would– my mind can’t wrap around why they would do that.

Randy: So several days after this story aired on WSVN in Miami, the mayor was kind of upset. He tweeted that “there will be no code enforcement in Miami-Dade County for the next 30 days.” I guess he has the authority to say that for the county, but you know it’s kind of mind-boggling that A) he had to make such a pronouncement, and that B) this is the era of Twitter, where, you know, official government proclamations are made on Twitter…Clare: It’s in writing!

Randy: …and that’s how he got the word out: on Twitter.

Clare: Well why couldn’t the official handing stuff out, say “well, you have leniency, you’ve got you’ve got time. I’m just letting you know.”

Randy: Right. Instead of what he said was, “No I’m not kidding. I have to cite you for this.” Perez said, “If my fence had not been put back up when he came back, he would have to write me a fine or fine me for that.” So that’s not “you need to get on this as soon as you can.” It was “no, when I come back I’m going to fine you if the fence isn’t fixed.” But here’s the problem: you know, hours after the storm do you think Home Depot was open? And do you think they had plenty of supplies to sell right then and there for people needing to put a fence up?

Clare: I don’t think so!

Randy: I don’t think so either. So pretty ridiculous. If they’re going to be sending people on the payroll, maybe they could send people out to help and get the streets open, and get really serious safety hazards cleared up. Not going around writing tickets. Come on; give me a break.

Clare: Yeah I agree. Where’s the service? They totally skipped over that and just “here we’re going to cite you.”

Randy: Right.

Clare: We’ve been through this natural disaster.

Randy: So a county spokesman said, “The safety notice is neither a notice of violation warning, nor a citation. It is important that we reach residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm because that is when conditions are most dangerous.” Yeah I think they know that!

Clare: That’s what I was to say. They have no idea? They’re looking at their backyard with trees falling over? There’s no danger back there — it’s fine.

Randy: And they’re looking at their food stocks and seeing everything wrecked and contaminated. But no, we need to work on fences and electrical wires …when there’s no power. Instead of helping people get water or food. Come on!

Randy: So Claire we have another installment in, “No Longer Weird!”

Clare: What’s that?

Randy: This week– well, this month, I passed on a story of a carjacker, who’s under arrest, who couldn’t get away after stealing a car and a cell phone at gunpoint — and this was not in Florida by the way. This is Birmingham Alabama.

Clare: Oh wow.

Randy: But the reason the guy was caught was twofold. The first No Longer Weird part — this is sort of a double-barrelled No Longer Weird — the first part is he couldn’t get away because the car has a manual transmission, and he didn’t know how to drive that.

Clare: I couldn’t get away either. Not very fast.

Randy: You can’t drive a manual transmission?

Clare: Not well.

Randy: Not well …especially under stress after, you know, you are trying to get away from a major felony?

Clare: Yeah I don’t know where to put my gun, my phone. I mean it’s just a mess.

Randy: Yeah you’d have to hold the steering wheel with one hand, hold the stick shift with the other hand, and hold your gun with your other hand.

Clare: And then figure out the feet. There’s three pedals down there instead of two.

Randy: That’s true.

Clare: That’s confusing!

Randy: OK. Well I did not learn how to drive on a manual transmission but, we had a manual transmission car and so my mother took me out to learn how to drive a stick shift. And she did a good job.

Clare: Did… I was going to say: did it go well?

Randy: It did!

Clare: That’s wonderful.

Randy: It was a 17-year-old robber, which is kind of sad.

Clare: Oh wow.

Randy: …but they were able to catch him not because he couldn’t get away. He actually, you know, left the car behind — and ran.

Clare: Oh!

Randy: So you know the kid does know how to run.

Clare: He’s got two feet!

Randy: He has two feet — he does have the ability to transport himself when necessary. But here’s part two of No Longer Weird: they were able to track him down because the guy just tracked his own cell phone and saw where he was, told the cops, and they went and got him.

Clare: Technology wins again!

Randy: So you know it’s a double-barreled No Longer Weird, and I’ll put the link to that, to the Birmingham News for that story. But you know it’s it’s really kind of a humdrum story these days. I have done this story a couple of times, this thing about can’t get away because of a manual transmission but, it’s not good enough anymore to get into This is True, unless there’s some kind of really good twist to it. And you know, what? Tracking him down by looking for the cell phone is not a good enough twist.

Clare: That’s normal now. That’s just what you do.

Randy: You would think that robbers would learn.

Clare: That’s why you take the wallets, not the cell phone!

Randy: Probably only take the cash, too, because you know you start using the credit cards…?

Clare: True! They ping them.

Randy: Yeah: I get a notice every time my credit card’s used, and when the card’s used, it tells me where and how much.

Clare: And you can set that all up automatically, through your computer. Very easy.

Randy: Absolutely.

Randy: So I have one other topic that… you know I just was in California for the Cassini End of Mission. And I was driving. And on the way back I went through Elko, Nevada, and I had dinner there. It was a really fancy dinner: I went to Arby’s.

Clare: Did you get the curly fries?

Randy: I did not. But I have to say that the manager of the Arby’s in Elko is a hero.

Clare: Why is that?

Randy: Because it was just him and one guy that was doing all the food prep, and they were doing it all by themselves during the dinner rush.

Clare: Oh wow.

Randy: So they had people in line, they had people coming to the drive-thru, and that guy was heroic the way he kept that store going. He would go back and forth doing a drive-up window order, and then he would come back and do a counter order, and take the money and run the credit cards or whatever. And the guy in the back was just keeping up, doing all the orders…

Clare: And they were saying calm, and a smile on his face?

Randy: Yeah!

Clare: I love that. That’s wonderful.

Randy: It was pretty hilarious: as I was, you know I made my order, and I was watching all this going on, realized there’s only two guys here working the whole restaurant. And as the manager was going from the counter to the drive-up window to take care of something over there, as he walked by I said “You guys are doing a great job with just two of you during this rush.” And by the time I got all of that out, he was gone. He was completely out of sight. And then as he walked back the other way to take care of the next person at the counter, he said “Thank you very much sir!”

Clare: Oh wow. He still caught it!

Randy: So he’s doing complete multitasking, still had a smile on his face, occasionally would take an order out to somebody that was sitting outside, or out at the tables, because you know they weren’t as fast as they could be because they only had two people in there.

Clare: Right.

Randy: So if there was something that was going to take a little longer because it had to be heated up or whatever, in this case an apple crisp…

Clare: Ohhhh! Yum.

Randy: He said “Go sit down. I’ll bring it out to you.” And he did.

Clare: Wow.

Randy: This guy’s doing the work of three people. And you know, you get like Hollywood actors that you know, sure they do a great job, but they’re paid sometimes millions of dollars, and then we all sit there and applaud because “They got an award!” Because “They did a good job!” And you know, people do good jobs all the time. They go above and beyond and take care of us. They don’t get an award. Do you think they have the Arby Lifetime Achievement Award? I don’t think so!

Clare: Yeah, I doubt it.

Randy: So I think the people that are out there doing their work, and sometimes under bad circumstances because somebody called in sick, or quit, or whatever, and you got two guys having to run the whole Arby’s at dinner time, and they still do it with a smile on their face. That’s heroic to me.

Clare: I like those stories better than best actress or best movie or whatever!

Randy: And you know, giving these people that make millions of dollars a year a big pat on the back and put them on TV, and let them give us a speech and tell us how much they appreciate the little guy…. You know, the little guys do it too. They don’t get their rewards and they don’t get the recognition, so I wanted to recognize the manager, at least that shift’s manager, at the Arby’s restaurant in Elko, Nevada. Good job. Whatever your name was, sorry — I didn’t… if he was wearing a name tag I didn’t catch it, so I can’t name him by name, but you know what, he did a good job!

Clare: I love that story! That’s wonderful.

Randy: I think it’s terrific.

Clare: That story’s similar to the Honorary Unsubscribe because it’s the redemption at the end of the stories.

Randy: Yeah.

Clare: …or because of the previous story.

Randy: And that’s part of what This is True is about, is the contrast between the crazy people not thinking, and the people who are getting it done, and making life good.

Clare: Making it real.

Randy: So that’s it for this week. If you’re enjoying these podcasts it would be really helpful if you’d post a rating and maybe a review through whatever service you’re listening on. Not already a subscriber to This is True’s text newsletter? Sign up for free at thisistrue.com. The Show Notes for this episode with the details and story we’ve discussed this week are at thisistrue.com/podcast12. I’m Randy Cassingham…

Clare: …and I’m Clare Angelica. Thanks for listening.

Randy: …And we’ll talk at you later.

[Easter Egg]

5 thoughts on “Podcast 012: Hurricane Response …Florida Style

  1. Great issue, thanks, Randy. While Clare is away next week how about another shout out to more everyday heroes — including your assistants, past and present.

  2. I sure hope the Arby’s manager got a GOOHF card from you as it sure sounds like he was going to need it at some point.

    Thanks for a fun and positive story, hard to come by these days.

    I had been on the road 2 weeks by then, and I had run out of cards! 🙁 -rc

    • As I listened to the story about the Arby’s manager I was thinking the same thing as Doug. Too bad you were out of GOOHF cards, Randy!

      I also wanted to add that I learned something new (for me) i.e. that it’s possible to track each credit card use (at least in the USA).

  3. Great podcast.

    Real heroes, those guys in Elko. I’ve done restaurant work and I know you have to take a likkin’ and keep on grinnin’. So I have great admiration for the job those guys did. I hope you got a message back to the chef as well. And I hope you gave them a great tip. Hell, if it was me, I’d have given them $20 for coffee and toast.

    The “easter egg” was a laugh. Glad I’m not the only one who’s tongue gets confused.

    Until next time.

  4. In regards to the Phone story, I had a friend whose daughter accidentally left her new iPhone somewhere when she went to see Independence Day fireworks. Luckily it was close by and so he and a brother went out on bikes with the Find My iPhone app to determine where it was. They tracked it to a line of cars and asked each one if they found a phone, they all responded negatively. After they moved a bit it pointed more specifically to one car and they went back and asked again. It just so happened that a police officer was walking by at the time and all of the sudden a phone got handed out the window.

    As to the Arby’s story, I always highly recommend filling out web surveys (links generally on the receipt) for almost any place like this. Although people usually use them to complain, it’s also nice when people give good responses as well (with names if available, although the trend seems to not have name tags anymore). You can also call the store later as the phone number is again on the receipt (most are franchises now, so calling corporate wouldn’t help).

Leave a Comment