And That’s Just the Way We Roll

By Leigh Pujado

Down here in the Florida Keys in this little microcosm of the universe we run things a little bit differently.  Far from cosmopolitan yet far too diverse for small town America, Key West is a unique little city with her own rules and protocol.  If you are visiting or possibly thinking of relocating to our fair town or if you just need a refresher on what it means to be part of “One Human Family” here in the Conch Republic, this column is for you:

I’m Sorry, Were You Looking for Florida?

Mickey and Minnie do not have a home here.  This is not Orlando.  The Atlantic Ocean is our water park and US One is our roller coaster.  People here are weird and we like it that way.

Isolated from the rest of our country, we exist as a conundrum dangling geographically as well as politically from the rest of Florida.  This is part of the Florida Keys, otherwise known as “The Conch Republic,” the wild, reckless stepsister of the the State of Florida.  We have a rich history in shipping, fishing, shrimping, wrecking, rum running, and drug smuggling.  Many of our residents have chosen to drop out of society, do not participate in modern American culture and most likely drink too much.

You still want to stay?  Read on.

Somewhere Between Mayberry and Cancun

We may see thousands of tourists each year, but this is still home to more than 30,000 of us year round.  Please treat our town and its residents with respect.  Please don’t litter either.  We want you to have a great time and enjoy our wonderful bars and restaurants.  However, please note that no matter how drunk you become, it is never o.k. to relieve yourself, pass out or vomit just anywhere. The last guy that peed on my front door step after the Fantasy Fest parade spent the night in the Stock Island Hilton.

This Ain’t the Mainland!

For the love of God, slow down!  Only jackasses drive fast through the streets of Old Town.  And it takes a real asshole to pass another car on any of the bridges along US One.  (Unfortunately, there is no shortage of assholes!)  And if you drink and drive, you are a total dickhead!  Keep in mind that taxi cabs are plentiful in Key West and available twenty-four-seven.  Don’t be a dick!  If you imbibe, call either 292-0000 or 296-6666.  If you are a total dick and decide to drive drunk anyway, call Richard Wunsch Attorney at Law at 296-7060, after you make bail.

which reminds me…….

This Ain’t Vegas Either!

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

What happens in Monroe County ends up as a mug shot on!

The sheriff’s department arrest log, visited daily by many of our towns residents, is always fodder for conversation with friends over coffee each morning.  Everything is this county is public, including your pretty picture taken at our very own version of “Glamour Shots” on College Road.  And if your notoriety is less criminal and more social, then surely we will see your lovely mug in the weekly rag “Conch Color.”  Keep in mind that this is a small town and we are inevitably nosey!

Corporate Schmorporate!

I absolutely LOVE when someone from “corporate” is sent down to the Keys to “straighten things out” at the Key West branch.  I can see The Suits in the board room somewhere in Chicago, (or possibly Destin,) hashing over the particulars of those rebellious Key Westers refusing to prescribe to the corporate curriculum.  They squeal, “Oooo, let’s put everyone in tropical print uniforms, take away those costly benefits, fire that useless Key West manager, install Bob from Corporate as chief, give them shittier shifts and then ask them why they have such an attitude problem.”  Yeah, well, we didn’t earn our reputation for telling Corporate America to” go fuck themselves” overnight, now did we?  I cannot stress this enough, people:  Things run differently down here!

One Human Family

If you enjoy sharing this planet with people like Pat Buchanan, believe everybody should “speak American, dammit,” wear bed sheets with pointy hats to your community rallies or have a tendency to blurt out phrases like, “God created Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve! well, then you might want to reconsider your stay here.  Key West is a multiethnic, gay friendly town, and if you don’t believe me, there’s a bilingual drag queen down the street who would love to explain it all to you.

And that’s just the way we roll.


5 responses to “And That’s Just the Way We Roll

  1. Landon

    this is just beautiful

  2. I can’t wait to get there!!!!!

  3. Love it! Thanks for telling it like it is!

  4. I first came to Key West for Christmas in 1996. I drove to KW from Virginia, alone, on what I called my “Merry Christmas Key West Adventure” because my (then) girlfriend was spending the holidays with her parents and I wasn’t invited. When I got to KW, I soon found friends to hang out with, and fun that I never knew existed.

    The reason that KW is special to me is that it is the one place on this planet that I know that I can always go if ever I feel alone. That is true because I know that in KW, I don’t have to be alone, because there are always friends there waiting to meet me.

    For those that don’t “get” KW – I understand. There are those for whom KW is just not their bag. For the rest of us, thank God for the “one human family” in KW that you describe so eloquently. It is nice to know that I am a welcome visitor to that family whenever I am in town.

  5. angie christie

    yep,~ that’s the way it is! Awesome Leigh.

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