Thursday, May 21, 2015

"We Need a Pollo Tropical"

I was driving somewhere. At this point, it doesn't really matter where. Well, generally speaking, it matters that I was in a bustling metropolitan area within the state of Florida. You probably could have gathered at least that much, but for the purposes of clarification, I was driving near Orlando.

It took a really long time to get from point A to point B, and I expected this much, so I wasn't particularly peeved. I chose to drive on that specific road, and I knew that it was near rush hour. The circumstances beyond that are less than relevant. I passed three Wendy's restaurants, probably four McDonald's, two Wawa gas stations (and make no mistake about it, I stopped at one, because I fucking love Wawa. In fact, it's necessary for your understanding of my perspective to know that I own three Wawa t-shirts.), and a bunch more of the same restaurants, stores, gas stations, etc. It must have been a twenty mile stretch of road, and all I'll say is it took a heck of a lot longer to navigate those twenty miles than the speed limit would necessitate.

Near point B (okay, I-4), I crossed over Sun Rail tracks. 'Twas one lone hub of glorious public transit, amidst the smattering of dingy bus stops, and the suffocating smog of rugged individualism. It was at this point that I realized that in America we will probably build a million more shopping plazas, with thousands upon thousands more of the same chain restaurants, before we ever really get around to building more roads, bridges, and improving public transit.

Is that why there are four McDonald's within agonizingly close proximity, because it takes an hour to drive a few blocks? Is it because everyone is driving alone, and no one is utilizing public transit, because public transit is virtually non-existent? Who benefits from such an inefficient sprawl? It ain't me.

I love carbs. I love fat. I love alcohol. I will buy your unhealthy lifestyle, and I'll one-up it. It certainly wouldn't kill me to have to walk or bike a little more to acquire my vices. Or maybe it would kill me, at least if there is no sidewalk, or there are no bike lanes.

I belong to some groups on facebook that discuss local matters and local businesses. A question was posed: what kinds of restaurants would you like to see opening up in St. Augustine? Someone immediately answered, "We need a Pollo Tropical!"

But do we really need a fucking Pollo Tropical? I have nothing against Pollo Tropical (I've never even been to one, and maybe that's what this well-intentioned consumer citizen is attempting to address), but I suspect our priorities are out of order.

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